Mars rover to 'sandblast' sampling equipment
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (Nasa) Mars Curiosity rover is parked at a sand pit and ready to scoop up soil to clean and test its geological sampling hardware, the United States space agency said on Thursday.
These will be the first solid samples put through Curiosity's high-tech collection and processing tool set - a task central to realising the mission's goal of determining whether Mars ever harbored life, Nasa officials said.
Project team members said they were excited to get started, but planned to proceed with caution.
"Because this is such an important capability, kind of the keystone of the rover mission, we're being deliberately, incredibly careful," said Daniel Limonadi, lead systems engineer, on a conference call with reporters.