This past weekend, on route to Glenelg, the Curiosity Rover’s first target on Mars, Curiosity arrived at the “Jake Matijevic” rock (named after a late NASA engineer who died about a month ago) where it stopped and probed the rock with its huge robotic arm to determine its chemical composition. Curiosity also blasted the specimen with its Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer, which is on a turret at the end of its arm. Then Curiosity shot laser pulses at the rock with its ChemCam located on the top of its mast in order to verify the chemical findings (ChemCam vaporizes the rock and examines the bits). After all this “closeness” with the football-sized, pyramid shaped rock, it then took a few pictures with its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) as a memento of the occasion. Besides being an interesting rock to examine, the Jake Matijevic rock gave Curiosity another opportunity to test out its equipment.
Afterward, Curiosity smoked a cigarette and tweeted a befuddled message to earthlings announcing its momentous feat:
“I did a science! 1st contact science on rock target Jake.”
Curiosity is now continuing its journey to Glenelg where the confluence of three different types of terrain will give it plenty to work with.