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Curiosity Rover Preparing to Snort Mars Crystals Before Undergoing Major Software Update; Is Total Badass

Rock and rove.

Before undergoing a planned software revision next week (the fourth such update since its August 2012 landing), the Curiosity Rover will first use its sample-collection drill on “Mojave,” a rock formation that NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory says “displays copious slender features, slightly smaller than grains of rice, that appear to be mineral crystals.” Look out, Martians! Crystal-guzzling robot in the house!

In November, Curiosity inspected Mojave using a dust-removal brush, close-up camera and Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer; based off these findings, the rover will now intensely inspect the formation using instruments that “ingest” powder collected by the drill.

Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada explains, “We’re hoping that mineral identifications we get from the rover’s laboratory will shed more light than we got from just the images and bulk chemistry. There could be a fairly involved story here. Are they salt crystals left from a drying lake?”

Curiosity’s planned software updates will add greater protection against detected vulnerabilities as well as improve the robot’s ability to autonomously drive in favorable terrain; so yeah, look out, Martians. Wild and crazy robot coming through.

wildandcrazy

Autonomously driving in favorable terrain.

(via The Register and The Toast)

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