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Curiosity Mars rover flexes its arm for the first time (+video)

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover unfolded its seven-foot, five-jointed robotic arm on Monday, passing a critical test before the rover embarks on its first drive on the Red Planet.

NASA scientists successfully tested out Mars rover Curiosity's robotic arm. The arm could potentially drill into the Martian soil and collect samples.
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NASA's Mars rover Curiosity flexed its long robotic arm for the first time on the Red Planet Monday (Aug. 20), passing a critical health check with flying colors, mission managers say.

The rover unfolded the robotic arm and performed an intricate series of test maneuvers to make sure the 7-foot-long (2.1-meter) appendage is in good working order. Curiosity's robotic arm has five joints and is tipped with sophisticated instruments to get up close and personal with Mars.

Monday's Martian workout flexed all five joints on the robotic arm to extend it out in front of Curiosity, and then fold it back into its travel position ahead of the rover's first drive, which is also expected to occur in the next few days.

"It worked just as we planned," Louise Jandura, Curiosity's sample system chief engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. "From telemetry and from the images received this morning, we can confirm that the arm went to the positions we commanded it to go to."

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