Right here on Earth, we’re all taking care to clean our fingers for at the very least 20 seconds. However cleanliness is just not solely essential on this planet — it’s essential for the Curiosity rover on Mars as nicely.

Curiosity is gathering samples from throughout the pink planet because it travels up the large Mount Sharp. The rover drills into the bedrock, scoops up bits of rock and soil, after which transfers this pattern to certainly one of its two evaluation devices on board: the Pattern Evaluation at Mars (SAM) suite, which analyzes the pattern for the presence of natural compounds and gases, or the Chemical and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument, a spectrometer which measures the degrees of minerals within the pattern.

This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 2727.This picture was taken by Left Navigation Digicam onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 2727. NASA/JPL-Caltech

However the engineers controlling the rover have to be cautious to make sure that every pattern is just not contaminated with materials from another pattern. The Curiosity workforce defined how they obtain this whereas gathering a pattern from the Edinburgh drill web site in a weblog submit:

“After all, the dearth of water and cleaning soap prevents the rover from ‘washing,’ however we nonetheless have to verify the rover’s devices keep as clear as potential after touching a brand new floor. On Monday’s plan, we positioned the rover’s arm over the drill tailings from our Edinburgh drill gap to review them with APXS [Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer, a tool for measuring what chemical elements are present] and MAHLI [Mars Hand Lens Imager, one of Curiosity’s cameras].

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In as we speak’s plan, we’ll retract the arm from that place and stow it so we will drive away. Throughout that course of, we swing the turret forwards and backwards to shake off and take away any bits of sand or mud that will have been clinging to APXS so after we subsequent use it, APXS solely measures supplies on the new location and nothing that got here with us from Edinburgh.”

With the most recent drill web site inspected, Curiosity will now transfer on to capturing extra photographs of the dramatic Greenheugh Pediment the place it’s at present positioned. It is going to take a long-distance mosaic picture of the world earlier than taking a brief drive to a different patch of soil for its subsequent spherical of examine. As spring is simply starting on Mars, Curiosity may even be looking out for mud devils as these sometimes spike right now of 12 months.