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On the drive home from the train park n' ride tonight, I remarked to Mrs. Left that I was on pins and needles for NASA's first use of Curiosity's impact drill to obtain a test sample from the inside of a worthy rock. "It's the only instrument on the mission that they haven't tested yet." I remarked.  ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRNNNN! Sorry, that's wrong, but thanks for playing.

No sooner do I plop down at the computer than I find out NASA has just trotted out yet another capability for America's versatile rover on Mars. There is also an instrument to do what you see in this image. With the tiny craters and its apparent color (click here for a large format image), it almost looks like a tiny image of the Moon set down on the red sands of Mars. The area you see was cleared of sand and exposed for closer examination by one of the rover's previously, to my information, unmentioned instruments.

Follow me out into the tall grass and I'll tell you all about it.

NASA calls it the DRT, the Dirt Removal Tool.  It looks to me like it works pretty well. Here is how NASA describes it:

The tool is a motorized, wire-bristle brush on the turret at the end of the rover's arm. Its first use was on the 150th Martian day, or sol, of the mission (Jan. 6, 2013). MAHLI took this image from a distance of about 10 inches (25 centimeters) after the brushing was completed on this rock target called "Ekwir_1." The patch of the rock from which dust has been brushed away is about 1.85 inches by 2.44 inches (47 millimeters by 62 millimeters). The scale bar at bottom right is 1 centimeter (0.39 inch).
You can see it on the right side of the turret in this image, apparently in its stowed position:
So, our clever robot on Mars not only does the dishes, but the cute little buggy sweeps up, too. I could use Curiosity at my house, where I'm sure there must be corners and crevasses where the search for ancient life might prove productive.

For all of my Mars diaries and all things Mars on Daily Kos go to Kossacks on Mars

Originally posted to Kossacks on Mars on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 05:17 PM PST.

Also republished by Astro Kos and SciTech.

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