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Curiosity begins first Mars soil analysis
Posted: Sat, Oct 20, 2012, 10:27 AM ET (1427 GMT)
MSL Curiosity scooping Martian soil (NASA/JPL) NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has deposited a sample of Martian soil into one its instruments for analysis, project scientists said this week. The sample will be analyzed by Curiosity's Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument, and will be the first such sample studied by the instrument, after previous samples were run through the instrument to remove any terrestrial contamination in it. Scientists are also studying a fleck of light-colored material seen in the soil around Curiosity. While original speculation focused on debris from the spacecraft, similar to a slightly larger piece of plastic seen earlier this month, scientists now believe it's Martian in origin, either a different type of mineral or one that broke on a cleavage plane and thus reflects more sunlight. Curiosity itself is in good condition two and a half months after landing, and is on schedule to start heading to the foothills of Aeolis Mons, aka Mt. Sharp, by the end of this year.
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