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Curiosity prepares to drill in to first rock

Posted on Friday, 18 January, 2013 | Comment icon 9 comments | News tip by: Waspie_Dwarf

Image credit: NASA

NASA's car-sized Mars rover will soon be trying out its on-board drilling tool for the first time.

The rover is approaching a flat rock with pale veins that scientists believe could hold vital clues to the planet's past. The drill is the last of Curiosity's tools to be tried out on Mars and potentially one of the most hazardous. If all goes well however the drill will produce powder from the target rock that will be placed inside the rover's on-board science laboratory for closer examination and study.

"Drilling into a rock to collect a sample will be this mission's most challenging activity since the landing. It has never been done on Mars," said project manager Richard Cook. "The drill hardware interacts energetically with Martian material we don't control. We won't be surprised if some steps in the process don't go exactly as planned the first time through."

"NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is driving toward a flat rock with pale veins that may hold clues to a wet history on the Red Planet."

  View: Full article |  Source: NASA

  Discuss: View comments (9)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by freetoroam on 15 January, 2013, 20:14
Truly fascinating stuff. just one question/ or 2: ""All of these are sedimentary rocks, telling us Mars had environments actively depositing material here," are they looking for minerals or something which could be used on Earth as we are "actively" using up our resources, and how much is that going to cost to transport it back on a regular basis if it is what they have in mind?
Comment icon #2 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 15 January, 2013, 21:07
It is a scientific, not a commercial mission. In fact Curiosities main mission to look for organic material to see if life could exist/may have existed in the past on Mars. Given the vast costs involved, exploiting Mars for mineral its mineral wealth will be the realm of science fiction for many decades to come.
Comment icon #3 Posted by bison on 15 January, 2013, 22:56
The designation of this area: Yellowknife Bay, may be very apt. It apparently had something to do with Mars' watery past, yet it's not a stream bed, like the area where Curiosity landed. The discovery of sediment in the new area of interest, and images of what looks very like a shoreline, or set of parallel shorelines, suggest impounded water. If not an actual bay, perhaps a pond or lake. Remarkable that such structures could survive from Mars' remote past, and still be readily seen. Perhaps Mars' ancient wet period persisted, in a diminished form, for somewhat longer than anti... [More]
Comment icon #4 Posted by paperdyer on 18 January, 2013, 16:21
It's starting to sound like humanoid life could ahve survived on Mars eons ago. Perhaps we are the Martian left-overs. Wouldn't be ssomething if some type of bone residue was found somewhere near-by? This is a little far-fetched, but imagine a world that the inhabitants know is "dying". You see Earth near-by but find it inhabitted by Dinosaurs. You cause a climate change incident to cool the planet to kill the Dinos. Then you send colonies to the planet and start over as the ice melts.
Comment icon #5 Posted by DONTEATUS on 18 January, 2013, 16:37
The spark of life is out there we just havent found it yet !
Comment icon #6 Posted by freetoroam on 18 January, 2013, 16:53
Truly stuff for the science fiction makers....but where does humans evolving from apes come into this? Does it mean that apes where the inhabitants on Mars? And clever apes they must have been if they found a way to reach Earth, let alone manage to change its climate first, and if they knew dinosaurs were here that means they would have visited here before. My question is how can these super intelligent apes with the technology to travel to Earth, not come here with the wheel instead of waiting years for it to be invented?
Comment icon #7 Posted by ashven on 18 January, 2013, 19:17
Forgive my skepticism but i'm sure one of the primary missions is to find something worth mining Freetoroam-the super apes arrived here on biodegradable craft and remember next time you see an ape in the jungle he'll have a super computer disguised as a tree that he'll be controlling large areas of the planet with and............i've lost the plot
Comment icon #8 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 18 January, 2013, 20:59
Absolutely not. It's not a primary, secondary or any kind of objective of the mission. Curiosity has 8 objectives, all scientific, none of them commercial. The objectives are:

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