Curiosity landed inside Mars' huge Gale Crater on Aug. 5, kicking off a two-year mission to determine if the Red Planet could ever have supported microbial life. The rover carries 10 different instruments, but SAM is Curiosity's heart, taking up more than half of its science payload by weight.
SAM is designed to detect organic compounds, the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it. The mission team hopes to feed the first soil samples into the instrument in the coming weeks.
We should expect to hear much more from Curiosity, and from SAM, as time goes on, scientists said.
"Let me emphasize — these are the first measurements," said Michael Meyer, Curiosity program scientist and lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program. "We can look forward to more discoveries as the instruments are tweaked, the measurements refined and as we move through time and the seasons of Mars."
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