Robotic Hands, Human Minds

Robotic arms on Mars
Both of these images were sent home from Mars this week. They both come from the small hazard avoidance cameras at the front of a rover. On the left, Opportunity at the edge of Endeavour Crater, where it is studying clays, strange ‘newberries’ and other mysteries—some of the most intriguing it has found during all its long years on Mars. On the right, Curiosity inspects some bedrock on the floor of Gale crater in anticipation of its first drilling operations. Images: NASA/JPL
Curiosity rover 'hand'
The two shots above may look very similar, but here you can see that Curiosity’s ‘hand’ is much bigger and more complex, with a full suite of tools, not only for sensing the composition of targets, but for scooping, drilling and preparing samples for delivery to its onboard laboratories. But both rovers are ably fulfilling their mission: to act as our hands in the beautiful and alien places where we can’t yet go ourselves. Image: NASA/JPL
All the checks of the rover and its science instruments are nearly complete. In the next few weeks the drive can begin in earnest toward the place that is the reason Curiosity landed here—these distant hills at the base of Mt. Sharp. Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS

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