Status Report

Rock Abrasion Tool Exhibits the Deep Red Pigment of Mars

By SpaceRef Editor
July 30, 2006
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Rock Abrasion Tool Exhibits the Deep Red Pigment of Mars

During recent soil-brushing experiments, the rock abrasion tool on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit became covered with dust, as shown here. An abundance of iron oxide minerals in the dust gave the device a reddish-brown veneer. Investigators were using the rock abrasion tool to uncover successive layers of soil in an attempt to reveal near-surface stratigraphy. Afterward, remnant dirt clods were visible on both the bit and the brush of the tool. Designers of the rock abrasion tool at Honeybee Robotics and engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory developed a plan to run the brush on the rock abrasion tool in reverse to dislodge the dirt and return the tool to normal operation. Subsequent communications with the rover revealed that the procedure is working and the rock abrasion tool remains healthy.

Spirit acquired this approximately true-color image with the panoramic camera on the rover’s 893rd sol, or Martian day (July 8, 2006). The image combines exposures taken through three of the camera’s filters, centered on wavelengths of 750 nanometers, 530 nanometers, and 430 nanometers.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

SpaceRef staff editor.