NASA’s Curiosity rover drills first Martian rock

NASA’s Curiosity rover drills first Martian rock

4:28 AM, 11th February 2013
NASA’s Curiosity rover drills first Martian rock
Curiosity’s first sample drilling.

PASADENA, US: NASA’s Curiosity rover has, for the first time, used a drill carried at the end of its robotic arm to bore into a flat, veiny rock on Mars and collect a sample from its interior. This is the first time any robot has drilled into a rock to collect a sample on Mars.

The fresh hole, about 0.63 inch (1.6 centimetre) wide and 2.5 inches (6.4 centimetre) deep in a patch of fine-grained sedimentary bedrock. The rock is believed to hold evidence about long-gone wet environments. In pursuit of that evidence, the rover will use its laboratory instruments to analyze rock powder collected by the drill.

“The most advanced planetary robot ever designed is now a fully operating analytical laboratory on Mars. This is the biggest milestone accomplishment for the Curiosity team since the sky-crane landing last August,” said John Grunsfeld, Associate Administrator, Science Mission Directorate, NASA.

For the next several days, ground controllers will command the rover’s arm to carry out a series of steps to process the sample, ultimately delivering portions to the instruments inside. Before the rock powder is analyzed, some will be used to scour traces of material that may have been deposited onto the hardware while the rover was still on Earth, despite thorough cleaning before launch.

© NASA News 

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