Changes in Soil over Time
The grinding teeth have worn away on the rock abrasion tool of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit (after exposing interiors of five time more rock targets than its design goal of three rocks) but the tool still has useful wire bristles for brushing targets.
In this image, a figure-eight-like imprint in the Martian soil marks the spot where Spirit has begun examining subsurface deposits layer by layer. The circular indentations resulted from brushing by the rock abrasion tool, one of several instruments on the rover's robotic arm. As an effective brushing tool it is now fulfilling a soil profiling experiment on a target called "Progress."
The experiment is a multi-step process of carefully brushing away fine layers of soil and then using the MÃ¶ssbauer and alpha particle X-ray spectrometers, microscopic imager, and panoramic camera to examine the exposed surfaces during the long Martian winter.
This view is a mosaic of exposures taken by Spirit's microscopic imager during the rover's 830th Martian day (May 4, 2006). The total area shown is about 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) square.