Curiosity Rover Collects First Martian Bedrock Sample

NASA’s Curiosity rover, for the first time, has used a drill carried at the end of its robotic arm to bore into a flat, veiny rock on Mars and collect a sample from its interior. This is the first time any robot has drilled into a rock to collect a sample on Mars.

The fresh hole, about 1.6 centimeters wide and 6.4 centimeters deep in a patch of fine-grained sedimentary bedrock, can be seen in images and other data Curiosity beamed to Earth on February 10. This image shows that hole in the middle and on the right of a shallow test hole drilled earlier.

The rock is believed to hold evidence about long-gone wet environments. In pursuit of that evidence, the rover will use its laboratory instruments to analyze rock powder collected by the drill.

“The most advanced planetary robot ever designed is now a fully operating analytical laboratory on Mars,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “This is the biggest milestone accomplishment for the Curiosity team since the sky-crane landing last August, another proud day for America.”

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