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.

Come for the sand, stay for the science. See my new spot & the sampling activity I’ve got in store [video] bit.ly/SPku7Z

— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) October 5, 2012

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

So excited to dig in!One scoop of regolith ripple, coming right up!bit.ly/QJnLao

— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) October 7, 2012

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.


View Photo Gallery: NASA’s Curiosity rover readies itself to examine the Martian sand.

Read more news and ideas on Innovations:

Curiosity’s scoop and soil testing schedule

SpaceX Dragon capsule en route to international space station

James Bond and the modern gadget economy