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.
- 1 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 2 Margaret Thatcher 'expressed fears of Asian rising' at Anglo-Irish summit in 1984
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 The Unluckiest People of the Year 2014 (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
UK weather: Warning for more snow and ice as freezing temperatures and gales hit Britain
Margaret Thatcher 'expressed fears of Asian rising' at Anglo-Irish summit in 1984
UK weather: Travel chaos continues as King's Cross train delays add to snow on roads
The Unluckiest People of the Year 2014 (and one very unlucky giraffe)
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...