NASA rover flexes arm for first time on Mars

8:58 PM, Aug 20, 2012   |    comments
A camera on the Curiosity rover shows the shadow of the rover's now-upright mast in the center, and the arm's shadow at left. The navigation camera is used to help find the sun.
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LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE, Calif. (AP) - NASA's Mars rover has taken another small step for robot-kind.

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California say the rover Curiosity flexed its robotic arm Monday for the first time since before its November launch.

They say they'll now spend weeks testing and calibrating the 7-foot-long arm and its extensive tool kit - which includes a drill, a scoop, a spectrometer and a camera, in preparation for collecting its first soil samples and attempting to learn whether the Martian environment was favorable for microbial life.

On Monday engineers unfurled the arm, extended it forward using all five of its joints, then stowed it again.

The test is part of a full health checkup Curiosity has been undergoing since landing in an ancient crater on the red planet Aug. 5.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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