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Rock Bites into "Bounce"

This panoramic camera image from the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity features the 6.44 millimeter (0.25 inch) deep hole ground into the rock dubbed "Bounce" by the rover's rock abrasion tool. The tool took 2 hours and 15 minutes to grind the hole on sol 66 of the rover's journey. A combination of limited solar power and the rockís jagged texture led the rock abrasion tool team to set very aggressive grinding parameters to ensure that the end result was a full circle, suitable for a thorough read from the roverís spectrometers.

Bounceís markedly different appearance (when compared to the rocks that were previously examined in the Eagle Crater outcrop) made it a natural target for rover research. In order to achieve an ideal position from which to grind into the rock, Opportunity moved in very close with its right wheel next to Bounce. In this image, the panoramic camera on the roverís mast is looking down, catching the tip of the solar panel which partially blocks the full circle ground by the rock abrasion tool.

The outer ring consists of the cuttings from the rock, pushed out by the brushes on the grinding instrument. The dark impression at the top of the outer circle was caused by the instrumentís contact mechanism which serves to stabilize it while grinding.

Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell

Posted by at April 6, 2004 3:23 PM

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