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October 7 2012

Why Mars rover will shake and shimmy for eight straight hours


Mars Curiosity is about to take its first sip of the red planet's sand. But only after NASA's rover plays bartender to make sure the dry dust is shaken, not stirred.

The rover's scoop will dig into the sand Saturday. Then the action starts. The end of the rover's 220-pound arm will shake "at a nice tooth-rattling vibration level" for eight hours, like a Martian mixer gone mad, said mission sampling chief Daniel Limonadi said.

"It kind of looks and feels like if you open the hood of your car with the engine running," Limonadi said, making engine noises in a Thursday NASA telephone press conference.

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