You know, I read somewhere, perhaps here by Waspie or on NASA's website(not sure) that there is a concern with drilling.
Something about the vibration either snapping the drill bit, or vibrating loose some of the rovers electronics.
NASA became aware of this, but apparently too late before lift-off, so the engineer's reinforced some of the electrical connections to try and mitigate excessive vibration from causing serious problems.
The next stage is to use the rotary drill to create a circle of powder (basically powdered rock).
Hopefully they can then test this in the chemical analysis chamber in curiosity.
This will be a first for any rover on Mars.
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A self-sustained colony on Mars would be a worthy goal, certainly for the scientific value, but for the sustainment of civilization for that time when the Earth is scourged by pestilence or natural disaster. It would be interesting if the drilling were to identify water. Certainly that would be the impetus to drive manned exploration and colonization.
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Posted 05 February 2013 - 01:38 PM
Unless we can find a pocket of breathable air inside a Mars mountain, we are talking about a massive undertaking to put a colony on Mars. Fully contained buildings, air generators/scrubbers, etc. Probably similar isssues to underwater labs except possibly needing radiation shielding unstead for protection from ocean pressures.
PASADENA, Calif. - The bit of the rock-sampling drill on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity left its mark on a Martian rock this weekend during brief testing of the tool's percussive action.
The successful activity, called a "drill-on-rock checkout" by the rover team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, is part of a series of tests to prepare for the first drilling in history to collect a sample of rock material on Mars.
Another preparatory test, called "mini drill," will precede the full drilling. The mini drill test will use both the rotary and percussive actions of the drill to generate a ring of rock powder around a hole. This will allow for evaluation of the material to see if it behaves as a dry powder suitable for processing by the rover's sample handling mechanisms.
During a two-year prime mission, researchers are using Curiosity's 10 science instruments to assess whether the study area in Gale Crater on Mars ever has offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.
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