NASA's robotic rover Curiosity drills into Martian rock

WASHINGTON Sat Feb 9, 2013 1:33pm EST

At the center of this image released to Reuters on February 9, 2013 from NASA's Curiosity rover is the hole in a rock called ''John Klein'' where the rover conducted its first sample drilling on Mars on February 8, 2013, or Sol 182, Curiosity's 182nd Martian day of operations. The image was obtained by Curiosity's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on Sol 182. The sample-collection hole is 0.63 inch (1.6 centimeters) in diameter and 2.5 inches (6.4 centimeters) deep. The ''mini drill'' test hole near it is the same diameter, with a depth of 0.8 inch (2 centimeters). REUTERS/ NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Handout

At the center of this image released to Reuters on February 9, 2013 from NASA's Curiosity rover is the hole in a rock called ''John Klein'' where the rover conducted its first sample drilling on Mars on February 8, 2013, or Sol 182, Curiosity's 182nd Martian day of operations. The image was obtained by Curiosity's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on Sol 182. The sample-collection hole is 0.63 inch (1.6 centimeters) in diameter and 2.5 inches (6.4 centimeters) deep. The ''mini drill'' test hole near it is the same diameter, with a depth of 0.8 inch (2 centimeters).

Credit: Reuters/ NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Handout

Related Topics

Photo

Our outpost in space

The surreal life aboard the International Space Station.  Slideshow 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - For the first time, NASA's rover Curiosity used its on-board drill to collect a sample of Martian bedrock that might offer evidence of a long-gone wet environment, the U.S. space agency reported on Saturday.

Drilling down 2.5 inches into a patch of sedimentary bedrock, Curiosity collected the rock powder left by the drill and will analyze it using its own laboratory instruments, NASA said in a statement. This is the first time a robot has drilled to collect a Martian sample.

Images of the hole, along with a shallower test hole nearby, can be seen here .

"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.

Curiosity drilled into a rock called "John Klein," named for a Mars Science Laboratory deputy project manager who died in 2011.

In the next few days, ground controllers will command the rover's arm to process the sample by delivering bits of it to the instruments inside Curiosity.

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 said.

The drilling and analysis is part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project, which is using the Curiosity rover to figure out whether an area in Mars' Gale Crater ever offered a hospitable environment for life.

(Reporting by Deborah Zabarenko; Editing by Vicki Allen)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (3)
JL4 wrote:
I think this is cool, and am eager for more news! I hope there was life on Mars!

Feb 09, 2013 3:27pm EST  --  Report as abuse
americanguy wrote:
80% of the earth’s ocean is unknown and unexplored, and we spend money exploring Mars?
Who knows what incredible things we might find in our oceans.
Cures for diseases? Unknown creatures? Unknown minerals or energy sources? Unknown food sources? It is unlimited.
As far as we know, there might be an ancient civilization living in the ocean (computer calculations estimate there is a better chance of a civilization under the Earth’s ocean, than on Mars).
All so some closed minded “scientist” can report that finding previous life on Mars proves there is no God and the universe created itself.
If we found something fantastic, we can’t even bring it back to earth.
I see Mars “exploration” as a huge waste of money, and useless for humanity.

Feb 09, 2013 3:50pm EST  --  Report as abuse
mikefromaz wrote:
It is very encouraging to see America is still the undesputed leader in space exploration. I have witnessed every step large and small since the very first earth satellite, to the moon missions, the space shuttle and the ISS. Perhaps the space programs seems at time to not produce results fast enough. Consider this. President John Kennedy gave the electronics industry a mandate to come up with miniaturized electronics devices to replace vacuum tubes in space, both too large and using enormous power to operate. Thus, the integrated circuit was born. Every device we use today was born as a result of the space program. That alone was truly a milestone in humankind. Lets never take for granted that we have enough knowlege as far as space goes, we haven’t even begun.

Feb 09, 2013 7:08pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.