Nasa's Curiosity Rover Drills into Surface of Mars
By Fiona Keating | February 10, 2013 9:12 PM EST
- The Nasa rover is currently transmitting HD images and video from the surface of Mars
- Nasa's Mars Odyssey spacecraft detected huge deposits of water beneath the surface, across the planet - in the form of ice
- Mars has the tallest mountain in the Solar System, the Olympus Mons. It rises up 27 kilometres above the surrounding plains
- The atmosphere on Mars consists of 95 percent carbon dioxide, 3 percent nitrogen, 1.6 percent argon and trace amounts of water and oxygen
Nasa's Curiosity rover has, for the first time, used a drill carried at the end of its robotic arm to bore into the surface of Mars and collected a sample from its interior.
This is the first time any robot has drilled into a rock to collect a sample from the red planet.
The fresh hole, about 1.6 centimetres wide and 6.4 centimetres deep, can be seen in images and other data Curiosity beamed back to Earth on Saturday.
The rock is believed to hold evidence about the history of the planet, which once had a wet environment. The rover will use its laboratory instruments to analyse rock powder collected by the drill.
Curiosity's first drill target was a rock laced with veins of what appeared to be water-deposited minerals. The car-sized rover, which landed on Mars on 6 August for a two-year mission, is searching for the geological and chemical conditions needed to support and preserve microbial life.
"First drilling on Mars to collect a sample for science is a success," Nasa posted on Twitter.
"The most advanced planetary robot ever designed is now a fully operating analytical laboratory on Mars," said John Grunsfeld, Nasa associate administrator for the agency's Science Mission Directorate.
"This is the biggest milestone accomplishment for the Curiosity team since the sky-crane landing last August, another proud day for America," he added.
For the next few days, ground controllers will command the rover's arm to process the sample, ultimately delivering portions to the instruments inside.
"We commanded the first full-depth drilling, and we believe we have collected sufficient material from the rock to meet our objectives of hardware cleaning and sample drop-off," said Avi Okon, drill cognisant engineer at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Other tasks that the rover has to perform are to find out whether Mars is or ever was habitable.
To report problems or to leave feedback about this article, e-mail:
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- Taylor Swift Named Forbes' Second Highest Paid Country Musician [PHOTOS]
- Forever Lost: Indescribable Anguish for Malaysia Airlines MH17 Families, Remains of Some Victims May Never Be Found (PHOTOS)
- Global Aviation Accidents: UN to Form Safety Task Force, Gov'ts Should Share Intelligence Info to Avert Future Incidents on Flying Over Warzones (PHOTOS)
- PageSix: Beyonce & Jay Z Union is Not About Love, All About Business & the Brand
Join the Conversation
- NASA Astronomers Unearths Mysterious Signal That 'Could Not Be Explained By Known Physics' [Watch Video]
- Richard Norris' Successful Face Transplant Lands Him in GQ Cover [WATCH VIDEOS]
- Industrial Air Pollution May Help Search for Alien Life - Scientists
- Luxury Cruise: A 'Once In A Lifetime' Trip To Experience Environment Devastation in the Arctic
- Breaking Discovery: Industrial Pollution Reached South Pole by 19th Century
- Samsung Galaxy S5 Alpha Leaks Online: Release Date, Five Features to Wait for New Smart Phone
- Photos of Motorola Moto X+1 Prototype and Specs Leak Online, Release Date, Four Fresh Features Revealed
- Sony Xperia Z3: Release Date, Five Features to Expect from New Android Smart Phone
- Top Surprising Features Of iOS 8
- Top 4 Reasons Why iPhone 6 Will Hit Big Soon After its Sept 2014 Release Date
- 5 Food Scandals That Shocked The World
- Iran Leader Asks Muslims to Supply Arms to Palestine, Calls Israel ‘Rapacious Wolf’