The Mars Science Laboratory rover will sport the biggest, toughest robotic arm the red planet's ever seen! This super-limb must lift 34 kilograms (almost 75 pounds) of instruments to reach out and test martian rocks and soil, which may hold clues about whether Mars could have supported life. Longer than most people are tall, the arm also provides heavy-duty support for the sampling drill. The drill requires a lot of "muscle" to hold it still on the rock. But, the arm isn't all brawn - it must delicately deposit the precious drill samples inside the rover for further testing.
So, how does the rover train to do all this heavy-lifting? Team members build two identical arms. They just completed the one that will stay here on Earth. They will use it for practice, in preparation for the one that will go to Mars on the rover. One strong arm down, and one to go!
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
|In this one-minute video clip, two engineers from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Alliance Spacesystems are working in a white room with the Mars Science Laboratory rover's robotic arm. They are dressed in white "bunny suits," and are covered from head to toe wearing white face masks to protect the equipment. The video is sped up to show the arm moving in various positions: at the rover arm "wrist," "elbow," and "shoulder." The whole arm also pivots in a half circle as the engineers move around the arm.|
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