With the rover flipped upside-down and its belly pan removed for access to the interior, technicians at JPL position SAM above the rover and install the instrument package.
"It has been a long haul getting to this point," said Paul Mahaffy, from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, describing the engineering challenges involved in creating such complex, compact instrument clusters. "We've taken a set of experiments that would occupy a good portion of a room on Earth and put them into that box the size of a microwave oven."
One of SAM's primary objectives is to check for carbon compounds called organic molecules, which are among the building blocks of life on Earth.
The clean room suits prevent contamination of biological material from Earth from showing up in results from the highly sensitive SAM system, which has the ability to detect less than one part-per-billion of an organic compound.