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Mars Rover Curiosity Takes Scoop Of Red Planet's Surface, Detects Bright Object

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This image shows the robotic arm of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity with the first rock touched by an instrument on the arm. The rover's right Navigation Camera (Navcam) took this image during the 46th Martian day, or sol, of the mission (Sept. 22, 2012). On that sol, the rover placed the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) instrument onto the rock to assess what chemical elements were present in the rock. The rock is named "Jake Matijevic" in commemoration of influential Mars-rover engineer Ja | WikiMedia:

LOS ANGELES — NASA officials say the Curiosity rover has made its first scoop of the surface of planet Mars and has detected a bright object on the ground.

Officials said in a news release Monday that they suspect the object might be a part of the six-wheeled rover, but they won't sample or scoop anymore until they figure out what it is.

The Curiosity has already beamed back pictures of bedrock that suggest a fast-moving stream once flowed on the planet.

The rover landed Aug. 5 and is on a two-year, $2.5 billion mission to study whether microbial life could have existed on Mars in the past.

Today's Mars is a frozen desert, but previous geological studies suggest it was once warmer and wetter.

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