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Waspie_Dwarf

Curiosity Prepares for Fourth Rock Drilling

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Curiosity Mars Rover Prepares for Fourth Rock Drilling

The team operating NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has chosen a rock that looks like a pale paving stone as the mission's fourth drilling target, if it passes engineers' evaluation.

They call it "Bonanza King."

It is not at the "Pahrump Hills" site the team anticipated the rover might reach by mid-August. Unexpected challenges while driving in sand prompted the mission to reverse course last week after entering a valley where ripples of sand fill the floor and extend onto sloping margins. However, the new target outcrop's brightness and its position within the area's geological layers resemble the Pahrump Hills outcrop.

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Mars Rover Team Chooses Not to Drill 'Bonanza King'

Evaluation of a pale, flat Martian rock as the potential next drilling target for NASA's Curiosity Mars rover determined that the rock was not stable enough for safe drilling.

The rock, called "Bonanza King," moved slightly during the mini-drill activity on Wednesday, at an early stage of this test, when the percussion drill impacted the rock a few times to make an indentation.

Instead of drilling that or any similar rock nearby, the team has decided that Curiosity will resume driving toward its long-term destination on the slopes of a layered mountain. It will take a route skirting the north side of a sandy-floored valley where it turned around two weeks ago.

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It looks like a pretty big rock embedded in the ground. How did it move under such a tiny force!?

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It looks like a pretty big rock embedded in the ground. How did it move under such a tiny force!?

Firstly drilling into solid rock is hardly a tiny force. Secondly, no matter how big the rock, if it is on unfirm ground, such as sand, it is liable to move.

Even a small movement has the potential to snap the drill bit and so the sensible decision was to not drill.

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