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Posted at 12:49 PM ET, 10/08/2012

Mars rover Curiosity takes first sample of soil on the red planet (photo & video)

An image taken by Curiosity’s Navcam: Left A on Sunday. (Sol 61).

Curiosity has had its first, successful scoop.

The Mars rover used the scoop Sunday to take a sample of “sand and powdery material” that will be used to clean the insides of the rover's sampling instruments. NASA released an image of the scoop site taken by Curiosity, confirming the first successful collection of a sample of the planet’s soil.

The scoop left a hole 1.8 inches wide on the surface, NASA said Monday.

The rover’s collection and testing of soil on Mars is a critical part of its two-year mission to learn whether the building blocks of life exist — or have ever existed — on Mars.

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By  |  12:49 PM ET, 10/08/2012

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