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Mars Science

Curiosity Scrubs a Mars Rock Clean 60

Posted by timothy
from the at-a-distance dept.
astroengine writes "NASA's newest rover on Mars has recently used its Dust Removal Tool for the first time, clearing away a patch of rust-colored dust coating its latest target: a slab of rock called "Ekwir_1." The Dust Removal Tool, or DRT (yes, the rover's cleaning instrument is called "dirt") is a motorized brush with stainless steel wire bristles located on Curiosity's multipurpose Robotic Arm turret — a veritable Swiss Army knife of planetary exploration tools." Reader Sez Zero links to a story on the brushing action at the BBC, which adds that "Curiosity is building towards using its hammer-drill, the last major tool yet to be deployed on the mission." So at least we know there's dirt on Mars, even if they chose not to send a dedicated life sensor, too. The Aeon piece is well worth reading, if that decision sounds perverse.
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Curiosity Scrubs a Mars Rock Clean

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  • Names (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bmo (77928) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @09:59AM (#42518405)

    The Dust Removal Tool, or DRT (yes, the rover's cleaning instrument is called "dirt")

    So what would you rather it be called, smartarse?

    "This is my new unlimited power source that actually works. It will cure world hunger, promote world peace, we can use it to fold spacetime so travel anywhere in the Universe can be done safely and it looks like a kitten. I call it Fred."

    --
    BMO

  • for curiosity to encounter a cat... oh the headlines.
  • Stuff that matters (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jetra (2622687) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:04AM (#42518475)
    Why do the articles about "Stuff that Matters" get less comments than pointless crap like the article about a Trillion Dollar coin being banned? I can't wait for more results from Curiosity's progress. It's a shame that people only care about fails these days than successes.
    • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:16AM (#42518665)

      get less comments

      I'd like to read the paper when it hits arxiv. Assuming it does. For one thing the fixation is on "dust" but it looks in the closeup that the brush scraped away rock and little nuggets remain... of what? Sedimentary rock with small chunks of something harder embedded in them? Or is there an alternative photointerpretation? If sedimentary, why so similar in size of its embedded "stuff", so maybe not? Or are those just boring brush marks from the sweeper itself that mean nothing? Anyway you're not going to see analysis beyond "oh shiny" in the mainstream media, so until some detailed papers are released there's not much to talk about, with the exception of the 0.001% of the /.ers who are real geologists.

      I do dream of a /. that has more links to arxiv and professors blogs than to discover and gawker. Probably get a lot more discussion then.

      • by Jetra (2622687)
        Do you really have to be a real geologist to enjoy the advent of scientific discovery?

        I'm not any kind of Professional scientist, but I yearn for the days when we were excited about any scientific progress (I was born in 1990, and '02 was pretty much the last year anyone was excited about any kind of space exploration, instead more interested in what the next FPS is going to be like or how the American government is screwing us over this year)
        • He didn't say you have to be one to enjoy it - he said you'd need to be one to really get more out that's intelligent because the story wont give that to you.

          I don't know what you think happened in 2002 - but as someone a little older let me posit that a lot of people haven't cared about more than entertainment and their personal take on politics for a long time. Lots of people still get excited about space exploration.

          But as the op there says - we just don't have a lot of meat to discuss about this exact t

          • by Jetra (2622687)

            He didn't say you have to be one to enjoy it - he said you'd need to be one to really get more out that's intelligent because the story wont give that to you.

            I don't know what you think happened in 2002 - but as someone a little older let me posit that a lot of people haven't cared about more than entertainment and their personal take on politics for a long time. Lots of people still get excited about space exploration.

            But as the op there says - we just don't have a lot of meat to discuss about this exact thing right now. I'm excited about it and I guess I could make some stuff up about what I think it means but I don't tend to run that way.

            Now American politics? Yeah I can opine on that all day with as much validitiy as most the other idiots. Though I try to avoid that too. I used to spend a lot of energy on it and realized it was lowering my quality of life.

            Be that as it may, I don't know many people who are actually excited by this and don't give me that bull that "People on Facebook post status updates." Facebook is a terrible, terrible social network that had a great beginning but is now just a hotbed of people cutting-and-pasting to make themselves look cool/

            Yes, American politics suck, but I'm sure they'll die off if we stop showing them so much attention.

          • by vlm (69642)

            Now American politics?

            One interesting thing is that we can pretend we're still in control of the govt thus discussing the specific example of minting a trillion dollar coin IN THE FUTURE is theoretically useful, at least at reducing levels of civil rebellion if nothing else. WRT using a brush to give Mars a swirly, thats already in the past, so theres not much room for debate... until the real results come in, what am I supposed to write, a "comb over would look better than a swirly" or "+1" or "like" or what?

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Now amplify that feeling by 1000 and you know how those of us that watched the moon landing feel.

          Science, truly excited about science, is a wondrous thing. IT brought us great marvels. It's why we used to have the tallest buildings, biggest damn, best airplane, great cars, and drove the brightest minds in the world to come here. IT's why we have a probe exiting the solar system that STILL send back data.
          Hope, real hope comes from what science can do, and having generations that use science to accomplish goa

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          I'm not any kind of Professional scientist, but I yearn for the days when we were excited about any scientific progress (I was born in 1990, and '02 was pretty much the last year anyone was excited about any kind of space exploration

          Wow, kid, think about it for a minute. You were twelve the last time you percieved that peope were excited about space and science.

          Thought about it for a minute? Yep, you're right -- it's not reality, it's simply your perception of reality. A 22 year old doesn't see things like

      • Despite the lack of details, I'm just enjoying the fact that we've got an SUV sized robot on another planet that is sending high definition photographs back to us that I can look at on the computer on my desk or on my phone. We've become a bit jaded with what technology can do, but when you take the time to think about it, just this much is amazing. (Then there's the icing on the cake of getting real science out of the robot-SUV-on-Mars.)

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:26AM (#42518769) Journal

      Why do the articles about "Stuff that Matters" get less comments than pointless crap like the article about a Trillion Dollar coin being banned?

      Well, I'm not trying to give Slashdot a free pass nor do I think the commentators are the best but to put this into perspective, you should consider these stories. You can have an opinion about the Trillion Dollar coin and you can speak about how you like or don't like and why that is. And it's quite polarizing so it's going to generate a lot of garbage. I think everyone is on board with Curiosity though. It's not polarizing. It's doing things that are far and above what I do in my day to day life so it's really hard for me to make a super intelligent comment about it. Saying how much I love Curiosity just turns into a circle jerk with people one-upping each other about how large their Curiosity tramp stamps are so I remain tacit unless I have something meaningful to add. The Trillion Dollar coin, on the other hand, I was all too eager to call names and engage in ad hominem attacks.

      Also, there have been countless Curiosity stories and about two Trillion Dollar coin stories. So even if you assume that the population of readers has equal comments about both stories you're going to exhaust the Curiosity comments quickly. I'm not here to say the same thing over and over on multiple stories -- especially when all I can do is sit here with my jaw agape at how awesome this is.

      So what exactly did you have in mind? My armchair NASA administrator posts aren't very productive so I read the story and scan the comments for something good. Nobody can chime in with "Well, when I polished rocks on Mars I used an anodized aluminum brush that got better ... blah blah blah." So it's hard to generate worthwhile comments here.

    • Looks like you wrote that when the story had been up for about 15 minutes for one thing. For another, it's easy to comment on theoretical economic/political insanity. Coming up with a worthwhile comment on something that's real is more difficult.
    • Because its hard to start a flamewar based on someone's position on which tool Curiosity should use next, while its quite easy to do so based on their political persuasion. Slashdot isnt a message board, its an argument generator.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Why do the articles about "Stuff that Matters" get less comments than pointless crap

      We can argue about the pointless crap, we can joke about the pointless crap, but what can you say about a sucessful space mission except "now, THAT'S cool!"?

  • Otherwise its inner monologue might be "Here I am, I just got sent 200 million kilometers, flew down on a really cool rocket, and what do they have me do? Scrub a rock. And with all the pain my diodes down the left side ... I think I'll tell those NASA guys I found bacteria just to confuse 'em for a while, maybe they'll send another probe to chill out with, eh?"

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:16AM (#42518663) Journal
    Martian Archie Bunker: *peering through his invisibility blinds out his window* "Awww jeez, Edith, look at it now, it's rolled on to our property!"
    Martian Edith Bunker: "Relax, Archie, he's probably just lost and looking for directions."
    Martian Archie Bunker: "Ohhh no, no he's not. Sheesh those gypsy rovers are taking over out here. Look what happened to Earth, it's practically infected with those things! Oh, what's it doing now? It's polishing one of our yard rocks. Oh geez, oh geez, now it's going to come up to the door and ask for money. I didn't ask him to polish no rocks, he ain't gettin' any of my money!"
    Martian Edith Bunker: "Well, maybe just a couple a' bucks, Archie. Look at this one, he's so slow and lonely looking. You know how slow those Earthlings are and they mean well, they really do."
    Martian Archie Bunker: "Oh no, not this Martian. No sir. You give one of them a couple of Martian bucks and *BAM* suddenly there's a whole group of 'Thlings with their stupid robots standing outside everyone of our 49 One Twenty One convenience stores tryin' to polish your windshield. I'm not going to be the Martian that starts that invasion, no way."
  • I hope that we don't found traces of a extinct civilization in a form of steel wire!!
  • You know they spent years and millions redesigning a tool that is found in every Home Depot.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Man, I want to go to the Home Depot you go to! there sell stuff that can survive leaving the planet. journey through space, survive a fast deceleration and a parachute drop and work on a different planet in extreme conditions with silt blowing all over the place.

  • Why does this section of rock appear to have a circle carved into it?

    At first I considered that just a side effect of the DRT on soft rock (spinning wire brush = circular abrasions, duh), but if you look at the lower, pre-cleaned picture, you can still see the outline of the same pattern.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm feeling a bit dim... I only see a cleaned image and a close up of the cleaned area.
      Would you mind linking to the pre-cleaning image?

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Find any rock on the planet., and you will find an odd 'pattern'.

  • ...and when the Rover's done cleaning that rock it was can go clean the toilets... Pretty soon we'll have Mars all polished up and ready for inspection.
  • We're ---> --- that much closer to a sex bot! Just some minor adjustments to torque and friction...

  • DRT = DRT Removal Tool
  • by Wolfger (96957) <wolfger@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @01:26PM (#42521651) Homepage
    ...a NASA wife is complaining her husband sweeps Mars but won't help clean around the house.
  • by Squidlips (1206004) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @01:38PM (#42521877)
    JPL is being cagey about this, but if life or even the biochemical signature of past life was encountered by MSL, the mass spectrometer / gas chromatograph would light up like a Christmas tree.
  • by Squidlips (1206004) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @01:40PM (#42521913)
    To me it looks like clay; the Holy Grail of this mission. It would be quite a revelation to find it this early in the missions. The consensus was that clay would not be reached until MSL got to the base of Mt Sharp a year from now...
  • by Sez Zero (586611) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @02:59PM (#42523079) Journal

    Curiosity is building towards using its hammer-drill

    First Martian Hammer Time!

  • by ScottMaxwell (108831) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @10:55PM (#42527905) Homepage

    Well, technically, I did the other arm work for the sol (the MAHLI and APXS placements) so that Joe and Diana could focus on the DRT.

    Nothing to add, really, just bragging. :-) Thanks for the continued interest in MSL, Slashdot!

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