Google+ Mars Travel: First Use of MSL's Dust Removal Tool

First Use of MSL's Dust Removal Tool

The below image shows the first patch of rock on Mars that Mars Science Laboratory's (MSL) Dust Removal Tool (DRT) brushed off. This dust removal took place on the 150th Martian sol of MSL's mission (6 Jan 2013) on a rock named Ekwir_1. The cleared patch of rock is 47x62mm (1.85x2.44in).

Area cleared of dust on Ekwir_1 rock by Dust Removal Tool
Source: NASA/JPL (Click to see larger official image from NASA)
MSL's Dust Removal Tool is similar to Mars Exploration Rovers Opportunity and Spirit's Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT), except that MSL's tool is primarily used for dusting surfaces off, while the RAT is often used to grind/drill into the top layer off a rock, exposing the unweathered material beneath for further examination.

If you want to know what the DRT looks like, just take a look at the following image from NASA!

MSL's Dust Removal Tool (DRT) from two angles
Source: NASA/JPL
These tools to remove dust are essential to any Mars rover's mission because essentially the entire surface is covered by a fine layer of dust. There could be incredible minerals or even evidence of life below the dust, but we'd never discover it if we don't remove that surface layer. As MSL continues on toward Mount Sharp it will undoubtedly keep using its DRT to expose the beauty of Mars that lies only millimeters beneath the surface. 

When it does I'll be sure to post those images too!


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