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Curiosity uses laser instruments to test rock named in honor of engineer

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Mars Rover Jake the Rock
Mars Rover Jake the Rock

Today, Mars rover Curiosity began its analysis of a rock called "Jake Matijevic." The rock was named in honor of the surface operations system chief engineer for every Mars rover mission so far, who passed away in late August, just two weeks after Curiosity successfully landed on Mars. Curiosity will examine "rock target Jake" using its arm-mounted Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer and its mast-mounted, laser-firing ChemCam, which has already seen one test thus far. Mars Science Laboratory project scientist John Grotzinger told Universe Today that the rock is relatively ordinary and will provide a good basis to test Curiosity's instruments. Grotzinger added, "to honor Jake and his contributions we've named the first rock where we're going to do contact science after him."