Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity has been testing Martian dirt. There’s more to this than you’d think.
All the pictures are from NASA/JPL.

The first picture is a diagram of Curiosity. At the bottom left, the camera that is used to look at the ground is MAHLI (Molly).


Here are pictures of the dirt and surroundings of the samples.

This is the area on Mars called Rocknest.

708541main_pia16453-43_800-600 view rocknest CThis is a picture of a rock they call Rocknest 3.

708524main_pia16452-43_800-600 C rocknest 3 rockThis is a picture of the five landing sites and they type of soil in each. The spot where Spirit Exploration Rover, twin to Opportunity is shown.

710622main_Gellert-1-pia16571-43_800-600 S landing site Soil typesThe next two pictures are of the scoop marks made by Curiosity for soil testing.

710589main_Edgett-1-pia16468-43_800-600 C rocknest scoops710600main_Edgett-2-pia16469-43_800-600 C scoop marks at rocknestThis is a picture of Wind Drift at Rocknest. The explanation said that even though Mars is called the red planet, the soil isn’t really red.

710611main_Edgett-3-pia16570-43_800-600 C wind drift rocknestThese are diagrams of SAM, the instrument used to have a look at the soil samples.

510820main_pia13790-43_800-600 c SAM703841main_webster1-43_800-600 SAM diagramIsn’t that great? I don’t understand any of it, but it is a lovely diagram.

703804main_mahaffy2-43_800-600 SAM suiteThis next picture is of SAM being installed on Curiosity.

510809main_pia13791-43_800-600c lifting SAM to put on cThis is the diagram showing the results of the soil tests. There is carbon, but they aren’t sure if it is from Earth or Mars. That will take time to figure out. It is carbon chlorine and it not organic. In other words, they have not found life on Mars. This is the last picture.

710693main_Mahaffy-4-pia16576-43_800-600 C carbon chlorine