Landscape Future | First Rock touched…

Still my fascination for this Mars expedition. September 23, NASA announces that Curiosity's arm touched the first Martian rock. Unsurprisingly, Mars and Science (fiction) enthusiasts certainly have enjoyed this news, me included.
This robot's task consists of taking photographs along with its arm-mounted camera — the Mars Hand lens Imager (MAHLI) — as the video below shows. As NASA reports, the aim is to analyze powder drilled from interiors of rocks.

The video below is a simulation showing rover Curiosity's first contact with the rock. With a software based upon an algorithmically driven grammar that integrates complex topographic features and environmental constraints such as Mars, the robot recognizes the specifics of the site's topography. The robotic arm moves back and forth to analyze the sol. When reaching its target, its ChemCam instrument shoots laser pulses at the rock. This rock, named Jake Matijevic in commemoration of the influential Mars-rover engineer Jacob Matijevic, has a smooth, grey surface with some glinty facets reflecting sunlight and reddish dust collecting in recesses in the rock, it is reported,

Jake Matijevic is a dark, apparently uniform rock that was selected as a desirable target because it allowed the science team to compare results of the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) instrument and the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument, both of which provide information about the chemical elements in a target. APXS, like MAHLI, is on the turret at the end of Curiosity's robotic arm. It is placed in contact with a rock to take a reading. ChemCam shoots laser pulses at a target from the top of the rover's mast.
This simulation below has been made with the Rover Sequencing and Visualization Program (RSVP),

Suggested essay: J. Wright et al., Driving on the Surface of Mars with the Rover Sequencing and Visualization Program
Jeng Yen et al., Sequence Rehearsal and Validation on Surface Operations of the Mars Exploration Rover

a set of software tools that are designed to work in this daily planning environment to support the rapid analysis of rover state information and creation of command sequences. (…) The RSVP tools include terrain model visualization and interaction, numeric data plotting and analysis, image display and interrogation, command sequence visualization, sequence rehearsal, kinematic modelling of rover and terrain interactions, and time-based modelling of spacecraft and planetary bodies for analysis of communication issues, incident solar energy, and shadowing. [ J. Wright et al.]

Curiosity's Rock-Contact Science Begins | NASA/JPL-Caltech
> "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 Jacob Matijevic (1947-2012)."

Mars Hand Lens Imager Nested Close-Ups of Rock 'Jake Matijevic' | NASA/JPL-Caltech

Mars Rover Curiosity in Artist's Concept, Close-up | NASA/JPL-Caltech
> This artist concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot for investigating Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial life. Curiosity is being tested in preparation for launch in the fall of 2011.
In this picture, the mast, or rover's "head," rises to about 2.1 meters (6.9 feet) above ground level, about as tall as a basketball player. This mast supports two remote-sensing instruments: the Mast Camera, or "eyes," for stereo color viewing of surrounding terrain and material collected by the arm; and, the ChemCam instrument, which is a laser that vaporizes material from rocks up to about 9 meters (30 feet) away and determines what elements the rocks are made of.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech > Curiosity's mission site

Source: NASA.

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