NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover recently snapped a new selfie that was stitched together from 57 individual images taken by a camera on the end of its robotic arm. This is also the second time the rover has performed a special chemistry experiment. The rover is currently analyzing the chemical composition of rock samples by powderizing them with the drill, then dropping the samples into a portable lab in its belly called Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM). Read more for a video and additional information.
Clay-based rocks are especially good at preserving chemical compounds, which break down over time and when bombarded by radiation from space and the Sun. This may be Curiosity’s second wet-chemistry experiment, but it’s the rover’s first on a drilled sample. In December 2016, when Curiosity’s drill malfunctioned, the rover still had a bit of sand that had been scooped up from a place known as “Ogunquit Beach.”
We’ve been eager to find an area that would be compelling enough to do wet chemistry. Now that we’re in the clay-bearing unit, we’ve finally got it,” said SAM Principal Investigator Paul Mahaffy of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.