Mars rover poised to begin first 'hands on' geology
(CBS News) NASA's Mars Curiosity rover is about half way to its first major scientific destination, project managers said Wednesday, a region known as Glenelg where three different terrains come together. But the science team plans to pause a few days to perform the mission's first hands-on "contact science," using instruments on the vehicle's robot arm to photograph and chemically assess an intriguing pyramid-shaped rock.
Data from the arm-mounted Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer, or APXS, will be compared with remote sensing data from another instrument known as Chemcam that uses a powerful laser to vaporize tiny sections of a target's surface. Debris from the laser strike is measured remotely to help determine chemical composition.
"The science team has had an interest for some time now as we're driving across the plains to find a rock that looks like it's relatively uniform in composition to do some experiments between ChemCam, which we've been acquiring a lot of data with, and APXS, which we haven't used yet on a rock," said John Grotzinger, the Mars Science Laboratory project scientist.
"Both of those instruments could make a measurement and there could be differences between the measurements because one is measuring at a small scale (ChemCam) and one is measuring at a larger scale (APXS). These rocks that we drive by on the plains here that look dark, they probably have basaltic composition. That's a familiar material to us."http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-205_162-57516282/mars-rover-poised-to-begin-first-hands-on-geology/?tag=cbsnewsLeadStoriesAreaMain