Engineers from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Alliance Spacesystems are testing the range of motion of the Mars Science Laboratory rover's robotic arm joints.
(JPL Robotics has led the development of the new Mars Science Laboratory instrument arm. This article is reprinted from MSL News. For the original article and video, click here)
The Mars Science Laboratory rover will sport the biggest, toughest robotic arm the red planet's ever seen! This super-limb must lift 34 kilograms (almost 75 pounds) of instruments to reach out and test martian rocks and soil, which may hold clues about whether Mars could have supported life. Longer than most people are tall, the arm also provides heavy-duty support for the sampling drill. The drill requires a lot of "muscle" to hold it still on the rock. But, the arm isn't all brawn - it must delicately deposit the precious drill samples inside the rover for further testing.
So, how does the rover train to do all this heavy-lifting? Team members build two identical arms. They just completed the one that will stay here on Earth. They will use it for practice, in preparation for the one that will go to Mars on the rover. One strong arm down, and one to go!