back to article Mars rover Curiosity gets ready to blast its first rock

NASA's nuclear Mars truck Curiosity is poised to start zapping its first rock to find out what it's made of, and is on its way to its first major science destination. First rock target for Curiosity The rover is just eight feet from a football-sized rock that's about halfway between its landing site and its first destination …


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  1. thegrouch
    Thumb Up

    Can't get tired of stories featuring Opportunity.

    1. Daz555

      Agreed.......and of course Curiosity, which is the subject of this article, rather than its tiny older brother. ;-)

  2. Tom Chiverton 1


    They already attacked one to test the gun out.

  3. JDX Gold badge

    They ran out of colour film, or they're trying to make the photos look more arty?

    1. Annihilator Silver badge

      Just be relieved they haven't started Instagramming the pictures...

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Someone should set up an account to do that.

    2. Tom 38 Silver badge

      You get better luminosity information per bit with greyscale than you do with colour, which is why all photos from Curiosity are greyscale, apart from the ones from MAHLI, which is intended to only be used in specialised scenarios where colour is important.

    3. E 2

      Their chief Photoshop Scientist is on days off.

    4. Delbert

      film shortage

      No they are just waiting for the photo's to get back from the HappySnaps' Lab the postal service is very slow you know

  4. Gordo Rex

    72 Feet?

    So, that's about 157 linguine per day. Guess they've got my GrandDad driving the thing. I've been wondering what the old guy was up to.

  5. Elmer Phud


    Is that the spherical football of Blighty or the egg of Uncle Sam?

    The picture has a shape not unlike that of a fancy Ferrero Rocher package like wot you find at Xmas.

  6. myob

    Pics of previous shooting

    Previous laser test pictures here: And if you are on twitter, follow @MarsCuriosity - some really good tweeting and pics.

    1. badmonkey

      Re: Pics of previous shooting

      What's Twitter?

      This is a tech site, you twit. Do it properly:

  7. Purlieu


    That rock looks a lot like a tiny pyramid, are they sure it's not someone Martian's little model of something else, this could cause a diplomatic incident or worse

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Pyramid

      Never mind little model of a pyramid - what if the Martians are really tiny and it's actually the tomb of a great Martian king? Cue inter-planetary war...

      1. toxicdragon

        Re: Pyramid

        If their tombs are that small then there should be no problem them being swallowed by a small dog.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pyramid

      "...That rock looks a lot like a tiny pyramid..."

      Just what I was thinking. Let's hope they've got a tiny Tom Baker standing by...

      ... just in case!

  8. Arachnoid
    Thumb Up

    As long as it doesn't. Get up and start walking away as soon as the laser hits it

    1. hplasm
      Thumb Up

      It may grow an arm-

      and start disgorging bricks to make a new pyramid...

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: It may grow an arm-

        You are Stanley G. Weinbaum and I claim my five pounds!

        And anyway, hasn't that pyramid *shrunk* rather since Viking photographed it in 1976? Perhaps it's been on a diet.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All those little rocks who are about to die.....

    .....we salute you!

  10. Red Bren

    Ill-fitting tribute?

    "The agency has nicknamed the rock "Jake Matijevic", after their colleague and surface operations systems chief engineer for the Mars Science Laboratory, who passed away last month." An agency spokesperson admitted, "We never really liked the bloke so we're going to blast the rock to smithereens!"

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope JPL uploaded some more audio

    so that each rock can be despatched with a suitably Schwarzeneggeresque quip

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I hope JPL uploaded some more audio

      Better turn on the microphone as well, so we can hear if there's a yell of "Ouch! What the f*ck was that?"

    2. ian 22

      Re: I hope JPL uploaded some more audio

      Does the laser make the ever popular "peew, peew" sound when it fires?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I hope JPL uploaded some more audio

        Does it make any noise at all if there's nobody there to hear it?

        1. cybersaur

          Re: I hope JPL uploaded some more audio

          No. Sound is dependent on the observer. Sound is nothing more than how air vibrations are modeled in the mind. Without an observer capable of modeling those vibrations, there is no "sound".

          1. E 2

            Re: I hope JPL uploaded some more audio


          2. Silverburn

            Re: I hope JPL uploaded some more audio

            Never mind the "peew, peew" about that other Holywood abomination - the entirely visible laser beam in clear air/vacuum?

            In dust/smoke/gas free environments there is nothing for the laser to bounce off, so the only visible aspects at the source and destination points. Yet, without fail, (in holywoodland) laser beams are seen as solid beams of colour.

            And even better, in some films you can even see the beam travel. Even though it would be impossible for the human eye to detect the light in travel.

    3. cortland

      Re: I hope JPL uploaded some more audio

      -- Schwarzeneggeresque --

      GERMAN wasn't bad enough, you had to coin THAT?

      Give me pyramids any time, please.

  12. Ralph B

    Rock-Shaped Martians?

    Did Charlie Bolden include a warning for all/any rock-shaped martians to take cover? If not, I guess the broadcast should have cleared the area of any sentient life-forms.

  13. Anonymous Coward


    Isn't this how it all started for Captain Scarlet & the Mr.Ron's ?

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Errr...

      Nah they launched Missiles, but that looks like a Mysteron pet Rock.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Errr...

        I think you'll find it was the crew of the Zero X from Thunderbirds Are Go that started firing on peculiar rock formations in order to collect a sample only to find that they were alien rock monsters.

  14. John Deeb

    odd shape for a random rock...

    If you were a Martian, what would you send in to check any invasive alien wild life?


    or beatle-cam

    If you stare long enough to a rock, the rock will look back into you!

    1. cortland

      Re: odd shape for a random rock...

      -- if you were a Martian --

      If you were a Martian, you'd have to deal with abnormal feem desire and repressed memory of your goricae.

      You might even dwark someone! ("Bad medicine" by Robert Sheckley, )

  15. Avatar of They
    Thumb Up


    Can we see photos of phobos passing the sun? That sounds cool.

    1. Thomas 4
      Thumb Up

      Re: But...

      That last paragraph brought to mind the most wonderful mental image of the sands of Mars being affected like tides.

    2. Pirate Dave

      Re: But...

      I thought the same. Found a couple of pics on the NASA site:

      Not quite what I had expected, nor where any unicorns to be seen.

  16. Dr. Ellen

    Language, language!

    "...having now trundled across the Mars for six days..."

    THE Mars? I've been seeing this linguistic abomination for some time now, everywhere I go. Stop doing it.

    1. Annihilator Silver badge

      Re: Language, language!

      Raises an interesting point, you would say "trundled across the Earth for six days", so why not "the Mars"? I reckon that technically it's correct - though doesn't scan easily... yet

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Language, language!

        We give "the Earth" a definite article because 'earth' is a word with many meanings, and so in a sentence the definite article is required to impart the gravitas - there is earth everywhere, but of the Earth, there is only one.

        This isn't required with Mars - there is only one Mars (unless you got a Mars Duo) - so it is fine to say "The rover drove across Mars".

        You wouldn't say "The rover drove across the London" or "The rover drove across the France". You would say "The rover drove across the UK" because 'UK' is a plural collection, but you wouldn't say "The rover drove across the England".

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

          Re: Language, language!

          @Tom 38

          Thank you for that explanation sir, I nominate you as today's cunning linguist.

        3. Steven Roper

          Re: Language, language!

          Yes, but the rover might have driven across the Ukraine during the Soviet era...

    2. SirDigalot

      Re: Language, language!

      and i saw linguistic as el regs unit of measurement, not the actual meaning of the word

    3. cortland

      Re: Language, language!

      Tellus* more.


  17. Dr. Ellen

    Re: Re: Language, language!

    "Earth" is a word indicating a substance, as well as a planet. It's reasonable to say "trundle across the substance". But in that case, the word would be earth, not Earth. There is no substance-word for Martian soil as of yet.

    1. Pirate Dave

      Re: no substance-word for Martial soil

      I propose we call it "mars"...

    2. Measurer

      Re: Language, language!

      the marshhsshh....?

      1. Uncle Siggy

        Re: Language, language!

        Alright you! No more rum!

    3. E 2

      Re: Language, language!

      Whereas if the rover trundled across some named substance of no particular or important location one does not say it trundled across the substance, but rather across substance or some substance.

      To wit: the martians managed, when no one was looking, to place oil in the rover's way to make it's tyres slippery.

      NASA spokesperson would say: "The rover trundled across oil and now it's tyres are very slippery", or perhaps "The rover trundled across some oil and now it's tyres are very slippery".

      Spokesperson would not say "The rover trundled across the oil and now it's tyres are very slippery", as that implies NASA knows where the oil is. Further one might then ask NASA if this is the Black Oil of X Files fame and if so when will it arrive here? NASA, and indeed the entire USA gov't, are deeply commited to denying the existence of black oil.

      1. Pirate Dave

        Re: Language, language!

        I doubt the NASA spokesperson would say "The rover trundled across oil and now it's tyres are very slippery". However, it is very likely that the NASA spokesperson would say "The rover trundled across oil and now it's tires are very slippery", because, well, that's just what they would say at NASA.

    4. Ru

      Re: Language, language!

      "There is no substance-word for Martian soil as of yet."

      ...on account of there being no soil there at all. If you don't like "sand" or "dust" or "grit" or "gravel", you can perhaps take solace in "regolith".

  18. M E H

    Big Trak

    Giving a tank commands to drive remotely then checking where it has got to.

    Firing a laser at things.

    Curiosity is an overgrown Big Trak!

    1. Dave Walker

      Re: Big Trak

      Time to dig mine out of mom's attic!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sorry for my ignorance mr hawkins

    In todays impatient 24hr rolling news world the glacial pace of the stone quarry rover will eventually drive all the sci fi dweebs mad.

    They should just snap some panoramic landscape shots at different times of the day and run then through filters to look nice and alien. looking at rocks is dross when it cost billions, and anyway isn't the whole universe made of the same stuff? there is no such thing as kryptonite and all the other nonsense from comics.

  20. Graham Marsden

    O O "This is the voice of the Mysterons...

    "...we know that you can hear us...


  21. Captain DaFt

    In 50 years...

    I hope I'll be able to doddle through a museum looking at this rock and other artifacts from our early days of Mars exploration.

    Bonus if I actually get to do it on Mar!

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: In 50 years...

      Oops,lost my 's'! That should hve been 'Mars'.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    All that's left to do...

    Is to hope its a real rock and not an alien egg ;-)

  23. E 2

    This robot was built to rove...

    At 72 to 120-odd feet per day I say it was made to crawl.

    I thought an SUV sized nuclear powered rover would cruise at minimum 100KM/h.

    1. Severen

      Re: This robot was built to rove...

      "At 72 to 120-odd feet per day I say it was made to crawl."

      I'd assumed that had something to do with the time it takes for commands to get to the rover. Imagine you send it the wrong way and didn't realise immediately. Doesn't it take something like 20 mins for transmissions to get to "the Mars"? *

      Less chance of it flinging itself off a cliff before you can correct if it's moving at the rate of an asthmatic ant carrying some very heavy shopping.

      * Sorry, Dr Ellen, I just couldn't resist! :-)

  24. Robert E A Harvey


    It's a million to one, I tell you!

    1. cortland

      Re: Odds

      "A million to one? You mean..."


      Right up there with "I have a cunning plan."

    2. Hardcastle the ancient

      Re: Odds

      But still, ...

  25. DanceMan

    Careful, Flash...........

    ...................judging by that pyramid, the Rock People are far smaller than we expected.

    1. Scott 2

      Re: Careful, Flash...........

      .. but what if that's just their chimney?

  26. Michael Dunn
    Thumb Up


    There's quite a good single malt comes from there - I didn't know it was imported from Mars!

  27. Antoine Dubuc

    Heads where its dark

    Anyone, anywhere, walking across this little pyramid in the desert would immediately presume, from the 90 degrees angles, the cut of it, etc. that it was man made. I mean cmon, just look at it!

    Except that here, God, even here, in this nerd and geek dwelling, no one will actually dare say that out loud. Shame on you. Check the pictures from Mars, there's a ton of stuff that just cannot be natural. There's a geologist on facebook who started a group about it 'astro anomalies' to document them.

    History will remember how cowardly and therefore blindly we turned our minds away from the obvious truth streaming back to us in HD: Mars was inhabited.

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