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Science Instruments: In-situ Instrumentation

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This image features the rock abrasion tool (RAT) on the end of the rover's 'arm,' or instrument deployment device.  The RAT, about the size of a 12-ounce soft drink can, grinds into rocks with its single diamond matrix wheel, while simultaneously brushing the area to clear it for investigation by other instruments. A semicircular contact mechanism provides stability for the grinding wheel and rotate brush that are housed in the very center of the tool.  The grinding head uses a rotation drive train and a grinding head revolve drive train to cut a shallow cylindrical shaped cavity in rock.  The single diamond matrix wheel scrapes the rock surface fractions of a millimeter at a time to an ultimate depth of 5 millimeters (0.2 inches), with a diameter of 45 millimeters (about 1.8 inches).

One of four main instruments at the end of the rover's instrument deployment device (or "arm"), the rock abrasion tool (RAT) is featured just right of center in this image. A semicircular contact mechanism provides stability for the red grinding wheel and rotate brush that are housed in the very center of the tool. The grinding head uses a rotation drive train and a grinding head revolve drive train to cut a shallow cylindrical shaped cavity in rock. The tool uses a single diamond matrix wheel to scrape the rock surface fractions of a millimeter at a time to an ultimate depth of 5 millimeters (0.2 inches), with a diameter of 45 millimeters (about 1.8 inches). The abraded surface is actively swept clean by a brush to prepare it for scientific examinations. To date, the RATs have grinded a combined total of over two dozen holes in martian rocks.

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