Mars rover Curiosity drills into Martian surface
Scientists toast success on "another proud day for America"
Nasa scientists have used a remote-controlled robot to drill into the surface of Mars for the first time, hoping to learn if our solar system's most earth-like planet could support life.
Yesterday the agency's car-sized Curiosity rover, which uses a drill at the end of a robotic arm, beamed back images showing a hole about 1.6 cm wide and 6.4 cm deep in a patch of veiny, sedimentary bedrock which bears signs of contact with water.
The small pile of powder thrown up during the operation will now be chemically analysed by the rover's onboard lab. The rock is believed to hold evidence about long-gone wet environments.
Yesterday Nasa tweeted: "First drilling on Mars to collect a sample for science is a success"
Engineers spent days preparing to use Curiosity's drill, including boring practice holes earlier in the week. Previous Mars probes have had tools to scrape and grind into rock, but never a drill for subterranean samples.
Curiosity's first drill target was a rock laced with veins of what appear to be water-deposited minerals. The rover, which landed on Mars on August 6 for a two-year mission, is looking for the geological and chemical conditions needed to support and preserve microbial life.
NASA's lead scientist, John Grunsfeld, said: "The most advanced planetary robot ever designed is now a fully operating analytical laboratory on Mars.
"This is the biggest milestone accomplishment for the Curiosity team since the sky-crane landing last August, another proud day for America."
Curiosity's ultimate target is a 3-mile high mound of layered sediment rising from the floor of the Gale Crater landing site.
The rock Curiosity drilled is called John Klein in memory of a Mars Science Laboratory deputy project manager who died in 2011.
Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery rumours: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...