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NASA rover prepares to analyze Mars rock dust

Wed, 02/20/2013 - 3:21pm
The Associated Press

Fresh off drilling into a rock for the first time, the Mars rover Curiosity is prepping for the next step—dissecting the pulverized rock to determine what it's made of.

NASA said Wednesday it received confirmation that Curiosity successfully collected a tablespoon of powder from the drilling two weeks ago and was poised to transfer a pinch to its onboard laboratories. It's the first time a spacecraft has bored into a rock on Mars to retrieve a sample from the interior.

The analysis is expected to take days to complete.

If all goes smoothly, scientists will focus next on driving the six-wheel rover to Mount Sharp, its ultimate science destination. Curiosity landed in an ancient crater last summer to study whether the environment could have been favorable for microbes.

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