NASA's Mars rover Curiosity made a pitstop at a football-size rock while on its way to the first official research destination. It's the first rock that will be examined in detail by the new rover.
NASA says "Curiosity encountered the rock about halfway from the rover's landing site, Bradbury Landing, to a location called Glenelg."
NASA named the rock "Jake Matijevic."
"Jacob Matijevic (mah-TEE-uh-vik) was the surface operations systems chief engineer for Mars Science Laboratory and the project's Curiosity rover. He passed away Aug. 20, at age 64. Matijevic also was a leading engineer for all of the previous NASA Mars rovers: Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity." says NASA.
The rock will be examined by two of the instruments mounted on Curiosity, including a laser used to zap the rock. After Curiosity finishes its testing on the rock it will head to the Glenelg area where it will drill into rocks and analyze the resulting powder.
NASA is interested in the Glenelg area because it's where three types of terrain come together, which can be seen in the different colored land surfaces. NASA says "The light-toned area is of special interest because it retains daytime heat long into the night, suggesting an unusual composition."
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