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Drill, baby, drill: Rover bores into Martian rock


The hole is 1.6 cm wide and 6.4 cm deep. Courtesy: NASA
The hole is 1.6 cm wide and 6.4 cm deep. Courtesy: NASA

Daniel Martins, staff writer

February 10, 2013 — Another first for Curiosity rover, as it digs into a Martian rock for the first time.

The rover used its onboard drill to bore into the rock on February 8, the rover's 182nd Martian day of operations.
The rover used its onboard drill to bore into the rock on February 8, the rover's 182nd Martian day of operations.

NASA's Curiosity rover has used its on-board drill to bore into a rock on Mars, the first time any drilling has been done on the Red Planet.

Curiosity drilled a 6.4 cm-deep hole into a flat, veiny rock, which NASA says may contain evidence of past wet environments on the desert planet.

The rock powder collected during the drilling will be analyzed using Curiosity's onboard instruments.

"The most advanced planetary robot ever designed is now a fully-operating analytical laboratory on Mars," said John Grunsfeld, associate director for the space agency's Science Mission Directorate.

Developing a drill that would work on rocks on another planet took some doing. Developers went through eight different drills, boring more than 1,200 holes in 20 different rock types on Earth before settling on the version that blasted off with Curiosity.

Since landing on Mars last year, the rover has done a plethora of tests on the planet's soil and atmosphere.

While beaming invaluable data back to Earth, its search for signs of life has not yet yielded conclusive results.

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