The Curiosity Rover begins analysis of the rock powder from the recent drilling activity:

Mars Science Laboratory: Lab Instruments Inside Curiosity
Eat Mars Rock Powder

PASADENA, Calif. – Two compact laboratories inside NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity have ingested portions of the first sample of rock powder ever collected from the interior of a rock on Mars.

Curiosity science team members will use the laboratories to analyze the rock powder in the coming days and weeks.

The rover’s Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) and Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instruments received portions of the sample on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22 and 23, respectively, and began inspecting the powder.

“Data from the instruments have confirmed the deliveries,” said Curiosity Mission Manager Jennifer Trosper of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The powder comes from Curiosity drilling into rock target “John Klein” on Feb. 8. One or more additional portions from the same initial sample may be delivered to the instruments as analysis proceeds.

During a two-year prime mission, researchers are using Curiosity’s 10 science instruments to assess whether the study area in Gale Crater on Mars ever has offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.

More information about Curiosity at: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/.

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Check-up Image After Delivering Martian Rock Powder

The left Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity took this image of Curiosity’s sample-processing and delivery tool just after the tool delivered a portion of powdered rock into the rover’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument. This Collection and Handling for In-situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) tool delivered portions of the first sample ever acquired from the interior of a rock on Mars into both SAM and the rover’s Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument. The delivery to CheMin was during the 195th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (Feb. 22, 2013). The delivery to SAM and subsequent repositioning of CHIMRA to present this side toward Mastcam, were on Sol 196 (Feb. 23, 2013).

The opening of CHIMRA’s portion delivery tube is visible inside the “C” shape at the center of the image, which is part of a wind guard. The opening is about 0.16 inch (4 millimeters) in diameter. Portions containing about half as much material as in an aspirin tablet were dropped through that opening into each instrument. The image was taken to check whether sample material remained in the tube opening after portion delivery.

The image has been white-balanced to show what the scene would look like if it were on Earth.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS