NASA's Mars Curiosity rover labs back in action

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NASA is announcing a new discovery about Mars on Thursday.

What we do know is that it's bound to be some super-exciting science, with a number of big NASA researchers taking part in the discussion - including people who directly work with the samples Curiosity has been diligently gathering on Mars.

The problem kept the robotic vehicle from extracting and analyzing Martian rock samples and severely affected the mission.

The drill bit of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover over one of the sample inlets on the rover's deck.

The deployment of the lab on May 31 marks a major milestone for the agency, which has worked extremely hard to fix Curiosity's drilling and sample analysis capabilities. But the resourceful Curiosity team came up with a new way to move the samples - a technique dubbed "feed extended sample transfer", which is more compatible with the FED than the previously used method, CHIMRA (Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis).

"This was no small feat".

"We're cautiously optimistic that MarCO-B can follow MarCO-A", said Joel Krajewski of JPL, MarCO's project manager.

"The scientific team was confident that the engineers contend - are so confident that we went back to the pattern that we missed before. The gambit paid off, and we now have a key sample we might have never gotten", Vasavada pointed out.

After landing in the Gale Crater and exploring the area during the course of its two-year prime mission, it has been climbing and exploring the base of Mount Sharp since September 2014.

Both MarCO-A and B successfully completed a set of communications tests in the past couple of weeks, said John Baker, program manager for planetary SmallSats at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

This Shipping method But that is here on Earth; around Mars, the slim, dry air provides quite different requirements for powder falling from this drill.

If the stone powder is too small, the lab can't offer accurate diagnoses, and whether the dust is too much, it could overfill the instruments which will clog the parts or contaminate future measurements. "We're talking about as little as half a baby aspirin worth of sample".

A successful test of this shipping method on May 22 led to even further improvements in the delivery procedure.

On May 20, the method worked as the agency expected and Curiosity was able to drill into a rock named Duluth. That new configuration no longer gives it access to a special device that sieves and portions drilled samples in precise amounts.