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Curiosity Update #3
Since NASA first reported Curiosity's successful landing on Mars at the beginning of August news about the rover has been appropriately non-stop. Curiosity is one of NASA’s landmark babies and every little thing it does is remarkable.
Each month we will update you with a quick round-up of Curiosity’s activities on the Red Planet.
After extensive testing of Curiosity’s tools (scoop, shake, dump, and repeat in Rocknest) the rover continued to reached out and touch stuff, mostly Martian rocks.
Now had the rover reached out and touched someone we’d be as excited about the implications and data that touching the rocks has given us but we would also be frightened and the two-year prime mission’s goal of finding microbial life may have been achieved earlier than planned as we welcomed our new alien overlords. But let’s get back to that rock.
"Jake Matijevic" was the name given by JPL to the football-sized rock and was the thirtieth rock analyzed by the ChemCam and the first to be studied by the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS).
The data has shown scientists that Jake is a rock of “varied composition” from anything found on previous missions to Mars and “resembles some unusual rocks from Earth's interior.”
"Jake is kind of an odd Martian rock," said APXS Principal Investigator Ralf Gellert of the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. "It's high in elements consistent with the mineral feldspar, and low in magnesium and iron." Sounds like the ingredients of breakfast cereals being sold in grocery stores across the country.
The day before Halloween NASA said Curiosity had a special treat when it “ingested” sand with its Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument. The rover then processed the sample through a sieve to discard particles larger 0.006 inch or 150 micrometers which is the teeny tiny width of a single human hair.
The sand was found to be similar to “weathered basaltic soils of volcanic origin in Hawaii” and was important because it provides investigators with a more current representation of what process the materials on Mars go through today.
About a week ago NASA reported that the rover was sending back information that will help scientists understand what happened to the Martian atmosphere.
The current atmosphere is 100 times thinner than Earth’s and the theory is that Mars lost most of it and scientists want to know why. Curiosity is basically “sniffing” the air with Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instruments and the first samples show little or no methane-a “precursor chemical for life.”
Curiosity’s Twitter feed has been quiet since November 2nd and I was hoping the rover would tweet a special bi-partisan Election Day message for all us here on Earth. Polls are still open and Curiosity still has time to offer a friendly reminder.
Follow Curiosity on Twitter @MarsCuriosity for all the latest news from Mars.
1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.
1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.
2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.