Curiosity Rover Touches 1st Martian Rock, Makes Longest Drive Yet
NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity reached out and touched a Martian rock with its huge robotic arm for the first time, then took off on its longest Red Planet drive to date.
Curiosity spent the past several days investigating a strange pyramid-shaped stone named “Jake Matijevic,” testing out some of the gear at the end of its 7-foot-long (2.1 meters) arm. These tools include the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS), which measures elemental composition, and the Mars Hand Lens Imager close-up camera, or MAHLI.
The rover performed these initial “contact science” operations on Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 22 and 23), researchers said. Photos snapped on those days show Curiosity’s arm sidled up against “Jake Matijevic,” with the arm’s turret obscuring most of the 16-inch-tall (40 centimeters) rock.