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Curiosity conducts historic first drilling on Mars

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February 7, 2013

”Mini drill” test by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

”Mini drill” test by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity made the historic first drilling ever attempted on the Red Planet on February 6. The drilling, at a patch of flat, vein-bearing rock called "John Klein" at Gale Crater, was the 4X4-sized robot’s first full use of its drilling unit and a major test before it uses the drill to collect pulverized rock samples for analysis in its internal laboratories.

The February 6 ”mini drill” test follows closely on from Curiosity’s weekend trials when it used its drill for a percussion-only tryout. This time, the nuclear-powered explorer used both percussion and rotation to bore about 0.8 inch (2 cm) into a rock.

The purpose of this was to produce cuttings for evaluation to determine if the drill is operating properly before the gathering of drilling samples begins in earnest. If these cuttings check out, the way will be clear to begin the first sample drilling in a few days.

When sampling drilling starts, it will also be in the “John Klein” area because it is a rock formation that shows signs of one or more wet environments in the Martian past. This will tie in with Curiosity’s two-year mission to seek out areas of Mars where life might have once or still could exist.

Source: NASA

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.   All articles by David Szondy
4 Comments

How can we be certain this isn't taking place in the Nevada desert at Area 51, or in some digital film studio?

JAT
8th February, 2013 @ 08:29 am PST

Why does it take more than a week of "Talk" before they start drilling?

I know its good to go slow and safe but A week With the drill sitting there....and nothing till now. Really?

I hope they built MSR to last. At this rate it will take twenty years to get to the base of Mt Sharp.

Brian Mcc
10th February, 2013 @ 01:49 pm PST

I'm with you Brian, without taking anything away from the outstanding achievement of the landing (took me back to Apollo 11) this mission is really doing more to emphasize just how much could (and will) be achieved when we finally get back to manned space exploration.

I hope I'm around to see it.

Reason
11th February, 2013 @ 05:48 am PST

MSL is awesome, Don't get Me wrong.

It just seems to Me that the whole process of operating MSL is WAAAY slower than Spirit & Opportunity.

Kinda hard for Me to keep interest going at this pace.

It took from 1/28/13..

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/news/msl20130128.html

Until 2/9/13 when they collected sample....TWO WEEKS...

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/news/msl20130209.html

Brian Mcc
11th February, 2013 @ 09:28 am PST
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