NASA’s Curiosity rover analyzes Martian soil

NASA’s Curiosity rover analyzes Martian soil

NASA's Curiosity rover over the last weekend analyzed the soil of Mars for the first time since it landed on the Red Planet in August this year.

Curiosity used its robotic arm to pour a small amount of Martian sand into its Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument last Friday, November9, and the instrument studied the soil's chemical composition for the next two days.

SAM's adjacent CheMin instrument makes use of X-ray diffraction to make out various minerals in the soil.

The American space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said SAM - the biggest scientific payload on the Curiosity - would provide the most methodical assessment ever carried out on Martian soil.

With the help of Curiosity rover's labyrinth of ovens and spectrometers, scientists are trying to detect life-supporting chemicals.

SAM principal investigator Paul Mahaffy from NASA's Greenbelt, Md.-based Goddard Space Flight Center, said, "We have a lot of data analysis to do, and we are planning to get additional samples of Rocknest material to add confidence about what we learn."

Meanwhile, Google has updated its Google Mars software that allows users to zoom around the planet and take in the view. The update provides images captured by the Context Camera of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

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