Curiosity’s First Scoopful of Mars

This video clip shows the first Martian material collected by the scoop on the robotic arm of NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, being vibrated inside the scoop after it was lifted from the ground. The rover’s Mast Camera (Mastcam) recorded this activity during the mission’s 61st Martian day, or sol (Oct. 7, 2012). The location of the rover for this first scooping is the “Rocknest” patch of windblown sand and dust.

The scoop was vibrated to discard any overfill. Churning due to the vibration also serves to show physical characteristics of the collected material, such as an absence of pebbles.

The left camera of the Mastcam pair, with 34-millimeter fixed focal length, recorded 256 frames used in this clip. Those frames were taken at about 8 frames per second. Interpolated frames were added between each of those original frames to increase the number of frames by a factor of 3while keeping the duration constant as the 32-frame-per-second clip presented here. The video lasts 31 seconds, with the motion starting just prior to eight seconds into the video and ending about 27.5 seconds into the video.

This initial scoopful of material, and a second scoopful, are for use in cleaning interior surfaces of the rover’s sample-handling mechanism. The material will be held and vibrated inside each chamber of the mechanism before the material is discarded. Curiosity’s Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) device, on the robotic arm, includes the scoop and the mechanism for sieving and portioning samples of soil and powdered rock. A portion of the third scoopful at Rocknest is planned for delivery to the rover’s Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument, and portions of the fourth to both CheMin and the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


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