March 27, 2015
Mars Curiosity is about to take its first sip of the red planet's sand, but only after NASA's rover plays bartender to make sure the dry dust is shaken, not stirred.
The rover's scoop will dig into the sand Saturday. Then the action starts. Mission sampling chief Daniel Limonadi said the end of the rover's arm will shake vigorously and noisily for eight hours, like a Martian martini mixer gone mad.
That will vibrate the fine dust grains through the rover chemical testing system to cleanse it of unwanted residual Earth grease.
For the next week or two, Curiosity will scoop, shake and dump sand out three times. The fourth time, the sand will go through complex chemical analysis.
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