Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Curiosity eats first dirt on Mars

19 October 2012, 13:57

Washington - Nasa's Mars rover Curiosity tasted Martian dirt for the first time on Thursday, testing equipment needed to assess if the planet most like Earth in the solar system has or ever had the ingredients for microbial life.

The sampling of about a baby aspirin's worth of Martian sand was slightly delayed while scientists puzzled over unusual brightly coloured flecks in the hole carved out by Curiosity's scoop.

Initially, the team believed the bright flecks were shed by the rover, similar to bits of plastic debris discovered last week.

"The science team started to classify these sort of differently, calling them 'schmutz'," Curiosity lead scientist John Grotzinger, with the California Institute of Technology, told reporters in a conference call.

"We had a lot of fun with that, labelling them and comparing, but in the end it turns out we really feel this is a different sort of particle," he said.


While not completely ruling out the chance that the flecks are rover debris, most of the team now believes they are naturally occurring, perhaps a mineral that was fractured by the rover scoop.

To be on the safe side, scientists commanded Curiosity to dump that sample and collect sand from another site for processing in the onboard laboratory. The aim is to get an ingredient list of minerals in the Martian soil.

"We got to believing there were things around us and began to look at everything through that lens," said mission manager Richard Cook, with Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"We definitely are more aware of what's out there now and are more careful about everything we look at," Cook said.

In August, Curiosity landed inside a 154km-wide impact crater near the Martian equator on a $2.5bn, two-year mission to determine if Mars had the chemistry to support and preserve microbial life.

The mission is Nasa's first astrobiology initiative since the 1970s-era Viking probes.

- Reuters

Tags nasa mars space

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...