Nasa's Curiosity rover is getting ready to analyse its first rock on Mars. A small stone near the side of the vehicle at its landing site on the floor of Gale Crater has been selected as a test target.
The BBC reports a laser will vaporise the surface of the rock, revealing details of its basic chemistry.
Curiosity landed on 6 August and is to test its locomotion system in the next few days, by rolling forward briefly. A reverse manoeuvre is also planned.
NASA researchers eventually want to send the vehicle 7km to Mt Sharp, a layered rock rising from the floor of Gale Crater.
Before then, Curiosity will visit a nearby site named Glenelg which has three types of terrain. It is 0.5km from the rover's landing site.