Flex, Zap, Roll

August 24, 2012
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Curiosity performs a series of firsts this week -- flexing its arm, laser-zapping a rock and rolling on its wheels.


Hi, this is Torsten Zorn. I am the tactical downlink lead on the Mars Curiosity rover.

Earlier this week we had a major success when we deployed the arm for the first time on Mars. This is critical to ensuring that we get samples into our instruments and use the arm for its scientific purposes.

The ChemCam unit, or Chemistry and Camera instrument, fired the laser for the first time on Mars using the beam from the science instrument to interrogate a fist-size rock called 'Coronation.' We promise, no Martians were injured in this experiment.

Before we could drive Curiosity, we wanted to wiggle our toes a bit and test the steering actuators. This is the first time we moved the wheels on Mars.

Cheering in Mission Control

We hit a major milestone on Mars. We completed our first drive of the Curiosity rover. We drove approximately three meters forward and performed two 60-degree rotations in a clockwise direction with imaging in between. We then drove backwards, just under three meters, in order to test the wheels in the opposite direction.

This put us in a great configuration to make observations of the scours left by the descent stage engines.

We've got a very interesting science experiment coming up here on Mars. We are turning on the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument for the first time to do an atmospheric experiment. This is where we let in atmosphere into the instrument and perform various science experiments that determine the composition of the atmosphere. This is the first time that this is happening.

Within days we will start our journey to our first chosen destination on Mars, Glenelg. We hope to obtain our first drill rock sample on Mars at this location.

The team named the landing site this week after the famous science fiction author, Ray Bradbury, on his birthday, Aug. 22nd, and he would've been 92.

This has been your Curiosity Rover Report, check back for further updates.