Honeybee Robotics Spacecraft Mechanisms Corporation is pleased to announce the first successful operations of the Dust Removal Tool on board the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity, carried out on sol 150 of the mission. This first use comes after the DRT and Honeybee’s other contribution to the mission, the Sample Manipulation System, were found to be alive and functioning nominally two weeks after the rover landed on Mars.
The Mars Science Laboratory is currently exploring “Yellowknife Bay,” a flatter and lighter-toned terrain compared to what the mission crossed during its first four months inside Gale Crater. The surface operations team is evaluating possible first targets for use of Curiosity’s drill in coming weeks, which would collect powdered samples from the interior of rocks for analysis on board the SAM suite of instruments. Use of the DRT is one of the steps mission planners are using to determine the characteristics of various rock formations and their suitability for drilling and further analysis.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has also shared an update on the first use of the DRT, and is providing regular mission updates at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/.