Feeds

Curiosity gives Martian rock its first scrub down

DRT – a pretty fancy name for a wire brush

Intelligent flash storage arrays

NASA's Curiosity rover has been bringing a little spit and polish to the Martian surface by using its Dust Removal Tool for the first time to scrub a nearby rock.

The spot NASA chose to clean up is a rock in the Yellowknife Bay area of Mars' Gale Crater dubbed "Ekwir_1." The rock needs to be clear of debris so that the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer and the Mars Hand Lens Imager on the robotic arm can get an accurate fix on what makes up Martian bedrock.

The DRT is a fancy name for a motorized wire brush attached to the end of rover's arm, but NASA has never been one for calling a spade a spade if it has the chance to call it a "single blade vertically deployed digging unit" instead. But it works, and NASA can now make sure its sampling areas are free of detritus.

"We wanted to be sure we had an optimal target for the first use," said Diana Trujillo of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the mission's activity lead for the Dust Removal Tool.

"We need to place the instrument within less than half an inch of the target without putting the hardware at risk. We needed a flat target, one that wasn't rough, one that was covered with dust. The results certainly look good."

Brushed area of Martian rock

Mars scrubs up nice

The secondary purpose of the scrub-up is to give NASA scientists options for deploying Curiosity's last remaining tool for testing. Its hammering drill, which can punch down five centimeters into the surface, should get its first use in a week or so, once the right spot can be found.

Yellowknife Bay has been picked as the drilling spot because the distinctive formation, located around 650 meters away from the rover's landing spot, is made of a new type of rock, which is believed to come from an older period of Mars' history than that previously sampled.

"We're down at the very lowest layer – what would be the oldest layer that we would see in this succession that might be five to eight meters thick, and that is very likely where we are going to choose our first drilling target, because suddenly we've come into an area that represents a very high diversity of things we haven't seen before," Curiosity project scientist John Grotzinger told the BBC. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Simon's says quantum computing will work
Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The hidden costs of self-signed SSL certificates
Exploring the true TCO for self-signed SSL certificates, including a side-by-side comparison of a self-signed architecture versus working with a third-party SSL vendor.