Meet Jake the rock. He's about 10 inches tall and 16 inches wide, and, truth be told, he's not much to look at. But NASA's Mars Curiosity rover is getting up close and personal with Jake as it begins to explore the red planet. To the rover, Jake is absolutely fascinating.
Jake the rock was named after the late Jake Matijevic, a NASA engineer who passed away several days after Curiosity touched down on Mars. Matijevic played an instrumental role on each of NASA's rover missions. According to a report from NBC News, the rock appears to be similar to a rock (unnamed as far as we know) examined by the Mars Spirit rover eight years ago.
In a press release, NASA explained its plans. "In coming days, the team plans to touch the rock with a spectrometer to determine its elemental composition and use an arm-mounted camera to take close-up photographs. Both the arm-mounted Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer and the mast-mounted, laser-zapping Chemistry and Camera Instrument will be used for identifying elements in the rock. This will allow cross-checking of the two instruments."
This isn't the rover's first task on Mars. Since landing last month, the rover has been busy photographing solar eclipses. Researchers explain that the images may help them better understand the interior structure of Mars.