Astronomy Picture of the Day
October 17, 2012

Curiosity's First Decontamination Exercise - Sol 64
Curiosity's First Decontamination Exercise - Sol 64

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech - MER and Lab. Curiosity - Credits for the additional process.: Dr Paolo C, Fienga/Lunar Explorer Italia/IPF

In this frame, the Scoop located on the Robotic Arm of the NASA - Mars Exploration Rover - Mars Laboratory "Curiosity" shows the larger Soil Particles that were too big to filter through a Sample-processing Sieve that is porous only to particles less than 0,006" (---> inches, such as approx. 150 microns) across. After a full-scoop sample had been vibrated over the Sieve, this held-back portion was returned to the Scoop to be accessible for inspection by the Rover's Mast Camera. The image is part of the first "decontamination exercise" by the Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) Tool, that is positioned at the end of the Rover's Robotic Arm, and which includes the Scoop, the Sieve and other components.

The decontamination exercise involved scooping some Soil, shaking it thoroughly inside the Sample-processing Chambers (so to scrub the internal surfaces), putting it through a Sieve, dividing it into the appropriate portions and then discarding the sample. This process will be repeated 3 (three) times. The rinse-and-discard cycles serve a quality-assurance purpose similar to a common practice in geochemical laboratory analysis on Earth. This image was taken by Curiosity's right Mast Camera (MastCam-100) on October 10, 2012, which was the 64th Sol, or Martian day, of operations at Gale Crater.

This picture (which is an Original NASA - Mars Exploration Rover - Mars Laboratory "Curiosity" white-balanced color frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 16194) has been additionally processed and then re-colorized in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would actually perceive if someone were near the NASA - Mars Exploration Rover (MER) - Mars Laboratory "Curiosity" and then looked down, towards the Surface of Gale Crater - Mars), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team. Different colors, as well as different shades of the same color, mean, among other things, the existence of different Elements (Minerals) present on the Surface of Gale Crater, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

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