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NASA Mars Rover, Curiosity, Doesn’t Kick Rocks; It Smashes Them

16 Jan 2015, 12:23 am

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 12.25.45 AM
(Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Some of the most revolutionary scientific discoveries – like radioactivity, penicillin and the microwave – were all discovered by accident.

And NASA’s Curiosity rover, on Mars, might have made an unintended discovery that could help scientists better understand the composition of the Red Planet.

Here’s how it happened (said in the same tone after break a piece of your mother’s bone china): Curiosity was just doing some simple drilling, testing the the composition of a rock called “Mojave.” Evidently, the benignly-named robot didn’t know it’s own strength, because it shattered the rock.

But, that may have turned out to be a good thing.

“It’s rare for us to look at fresh broken-up rock that’s not covered with dust. We are going to learn something unique by studying those,” Dr. Ashwin R. Vasavada, project scientist for Curiosity, told Yahoo News in a recent interview.

The “Mojave” target rock appears to contain mineral-like crystals and Curiosity’s analysis of the minerals could give researchers a more in-depth knowledge of Mars’ surface.

But, it wasn’t all serious. Curiosity’s Twitter parody account “@SarcasticRover” had a good go of it, tweeting this gem:

Curiosity often does test drills to test the stability of the rock. An unstable rock could damage the drill, when more in-depth drilling is being done.

Meteorologist Alan Raymond

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