The Curiosity rover used the Dust Removal Tool at the end of its robotic arm for the first time to sweep some soil off of a Martian rock.
The image above shows a patch of rock, called “Ekwir_1,” after it was brushed with the wire-bristled tool. Gizmodo’s Jamie Condliffe points out that rock looks pretty white after all that red dust is scrubbed away. “Under all that red dust, it’s actually kinda pale,” he writes. This is a view of Mars we aren’t used to seeing. The rock is in an area of Mars’ Gale Crater known as “Yellowknife Bay,” which Curiosity is currently exploring.
The Dust Removal Tool was designed and built by Honeybee Robotics.The Manhattan-based firm modelled the instrument on a rock-grinding tool previously built for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. The tool is important because scientists can’t properly evaluate rocks if they are covered in dust. Ultimately, the Curiosity team is looking for a good rock to test out the rover’s hammering drill. The drill will produce powdered rock samples and deliver the material to other instruments that will tell scientists what those samples are made of.
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