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."
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