Curiosity Taps Into Its First Martian Rock, Which May Have Once Held Water

Curiosity roverNASA’s Curiosity rover drilled into a Martian rock for the first time on Feb. 2, 2013.

Photo: NASA

NASA’s Curiosity rover is preparing for its biggest engineering task since landing on Mars.On Feb. 2, the rover’s 176th sol on Mars, Curiosity used the bit of the drill on its robotic arm to “tap” into a Martian rock. The bit did not actually spin.  

This small dent is just a warm-up for the first full drilling on Mars in history. Curiosity’s drill is capable of boring 1 inch into Martian rock. It will then feed powdered samples of material from the inside of the rock to other instruments on the rover that can tell scientists what those samples are made of. 

A camera on the rover’s arm positioned about 4 inches off the ground took a photo of the divot made by the drill bit, which measures about two-thirds of an inch in length.

The target is on a patch of flat rock named “John Klein,” after a Mars Science Laboratory deputy project manager who died in 2011.

The site was chosen because its full of veins, suggesting the area may have once been covered with water.  

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