Government IT: Curiosity Spacecraft: Images of NASA's Rover on Mars

By Nathan Eddy  |  Posted 2012-09-18 Print this article Print
APXS Portrait

APXS Portrait

This image shows the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) on the rover, which helped NASA scientists confirm the instrument had not become caked with dust during Curiosity's dusty landing.


While NASA's Curiosity rover has certainly been beaming back some incredible photos of the Martian landscape, the spacecraft itself is an amazing sight to behold. Roughly the size of a small car, the craft has the ability to drive around the surface of Mars, collect and analyze samples, and even blast rocks with lasers. One of the main instruments, the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), one of seventeen cameras on the Curiosity rover, is mounted on the rover's robotic arm, and is able to acquire microscopic images of rock and soil. The Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) analyzes the chemical element composition of Martian samples, while the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite of instruments analyzes organics and gases from both atmospheric and solid samples. Here's a look at the myriad of instruments and components that give Curiosity the ability to blow our minds with information about the red planet.

Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at Before joining, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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