LOS ANGELES, March 8 — The sophisticated grinding tool deployed by NASA’s rover Opportunity was apparently no match for a chunk of martian rock.
The rover was to use its rock abrasion tool Sunday to grind away at a martian outcropping dubbed “Flat Rock,” but the tool left “no discernible impression on the rock,” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientists now hope to learn more about the rock’s makeup by scraping its exterior. All indications are that the tool is working, NASA said.
Researchers also plan to have Opportunity use its alpha particle X-ray spectrometer to identify the rock’s chemical elements before attempting to grind away at it again later this week.
Meanwhile, on the other side of Mars, Opportunity’s twin rover, Spirit, traveled nearly 86 feet Saturday , bringing its total odometer reading to more than 822 feet. But because Spirit had to maneuver around several obstacles on its journey, it made a net gain of just 72 feet toward its ultimate destination, a large depression scientists have nicknamed the “Bonneville Crater.”
Spirit was expected to use an array of scientific tools to take measurements of its surroundings before continuing toward the crater.
The twin rovers’ $820 million mission was designed to seek geological clues to whether ancient Mars had enough water to have supported life. Both rovers have now found evidence of past water activity on the planet, NASA announced last week.
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