Curiosity Flexes Arm as Preparations for First Drive Continue

Curiosity Flexes Arm as Preparations for First Drive Continue

The robotic arm on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover had its first chance to stretch yesterday as NASA continues to check out the spacecraft prior to its first movement on the surface tomorrow.

The arm is seven feet long and has five joints that allow it to work with tools that include a camera, drill, spectrometer, and scoop.  It will be used to obtain samples to put into other instruments aboard the rover for analysis and to deposit other instruments on the surface.  NASA released this photo of the arm with its “turret” of instruments at the end.

Image credit not specified by JPL; available at JPL’s website.

Tomorrow, the rover will make its first movements on the surface.  It will move forward, turn to the right, and then back up, ending in a slightly different location and angled 90 degrees from its current position.   NASA scientists want to park it on a spot they have had a chance to examine with cameras.   The exercise should take about 30 minutes during which Curiosity will drive 3 meters (about 10 feet) forward — the length of the rover — turn, and drive back a little less than that. 

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