Curiosity Rover Drills Into First Mars Rock - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Curiosity Rover Drills Into First Mars Rock

Posted: Updated:

YAHOO.COM - NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has pounded into a Red Planet rock with its drill for the first time, bringing the 1-ton robot a big step closer to initiating its first full-bore drilling operations.

The Curiosity rover hammered the rock using the arm-mounted drill's percussive action over the weekend, completing another test along the path toward spinning the bit and biting into rock for the first time.

"We tapped this rock on Mars with our drill. Keep it classy everyone," Curiosity flight director Bobak Ferdowsi — who gained fame as "Mohawk Guy" during the rover's nail-biting landing on the night of Aug. 5, 2012 — wrote in a Twitter post Sunday (Feb. 3), sharing a photo of the pounded rock.

Curiosity's drill can bore 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) into Martian rock, deeper than any rover has been able to go before. Using the drill and its associated systems is a complex operation, so the mission team has been building up slowly to the first drilling activity on the Red Planet.

Last week, Curiosity performed some "pre-load" tests, pressing down on a rock with its drill in several different places to see if the amount of force applied matches predictions.

The six-wheeled robot has also been carefully evaluating its target rock, which is part of an outcrop the mission team has named "John Klein," after a former Curiosity deputy project manager who died in 2011.

Curiosity's main goal is to determine if its Gale Crater landing site could ever have supported microbial life. Along with the rover's 10 science instruments and 17 cameras, the drill is viewed as key in this quest, as it allows Curiosity to dig deep into Martian rocks for potential signs of past habitability. 

The mission team wants to test the drill out on a target with scientific value, and John Klein seems to qualify. The outcrop shows many signs of past exposure to liquid water, including light-colored mineral veins that were apparently deposited by flowing water long ago.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • INCREDIBLE drone video shows fire destruction over Pateros/Brewster

    INCREDIBLE drone video shows fire destruction over Pateros/Brewster

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:51 AM EDT2014-07-22 13:51:52 GMT
    KHQ.COM - Chelan HD Productions has given us permission to show this incredible video they shot with a drone surveying the damage done from the Carlton Complex Fire in the areas of Brewster and Pateros. This video is truly jaw dropping and really shows the level of destruction from the fire.>>
    KHQ.COM - Chelan HD Productions has given us permission to show this incredible video they shot with a drone surveying the damage done from the Carlton Complex Fire in the areas of Brewster and Pateros. This video is truly jaw dropping and really shows the level of destruction from the fire.>>
  • 10 Cheapest Houses For Sale In Spokane

    10 Cheapest Houses For Sale In Spokane

    Wednesday, November 27 2013 2:35 AM EST2013-11-27 07:35:08 GMT
    Whether you are in the market for an affordable place to live or are in the business of flipping houses, here are the 10 cheapest homes for sale in Spokane according to AllSpokaneHomes.com.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - Whether you are in the market for an affordable place to live or are in the business of flipping houses, here are the 10 cheapest homes for sale in Spokane according to AllSpokaneHomes.com. Yes, they all need some work and some need a lot more than others, but when your mortgage payment is around the $200/month range there's at least something to stay positive about.>>
  • Dozens of buildings burned in Washington wildfire

    Dozens of buildings burned in Washington wildfire

    Friday, July 18 2014 6:08 PM EDT2014-07-18 22:08:11 GMT
    KHQ.COM - The wind-driven fire in north central Washington destroyed as many as 100 buildings - most of them homes - according to Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers. Rogers gave that update Friday morning in his update on the status of the Carlton Complex Fire burning around the communities of Pateros, Twisp and Brewster.>>
    KHQ.COM - The wind-driven fire in north central Washington destroyed as many as 100 buildings - most of them homes - according to Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers. Rogers gave that update Friday morning in his update on the status of the Carlton Complex Fire burning around the communities of Pateros, Twisp and Brewster.>>
  • Top Stories from KHQTop StoriesMore>>

  • Carlton Complex Fire now 250,136 acres; 2,500+ firefighters on scene

    Carlton Complex Fire now 250,136 acres; 2,500+ firefighters on scene

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 2:47 AM EDT2014-07-23 06:47:59 GMT
    UPDATE: The Carlton Complex is now the largest wild land fire ever to burn in the State of Washington. The perimeter of this fire is more than 100 miles long. The total acreage burned is 250,136 acres. >>
    UPDATE: The Carlton Complex is now the largest wild land fire ever to burn in the State of Washington. The perimeter of this fire is more than 100 miles long. The total acreage burned is 250,136 acres. A total of 2500+ firefighters and support personnel are assigned to the incident. The fire is 16% contained.>>
  • Watermelon Hill fire 80% contained

    Watermelon Hill fire 80% contained

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 2:46 AM EDT2014-07-23 06:46:48 GMT
    UPDATE: The Watermelon Hill fire remains 80% contained. Fish Trap resort evacuations have been lowered to advisory level according to the WA Department of Natural Resources. The fire has been reduced to 10,518 acres. This fire is burning 7 miles SW of Cheney, WA and started on July 19th. >>
    UPDATE: The Watermelon Hill fire remains 80% contained. Fish Trap resort evacuations have been lowered to advisory level according to the WA Department of Natural Resources. The fire has been reduced to 10,518 acres. This fire is burning 7 miles SW of Cheney, WA and started on July 19th. 
    >>
  • Thank you to all who gave to victims of Carlton Complex Fire!

    Thank you to all who gave to victims of Carlton Complex Fire!

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 5:26 PM EDT2014-07-22 21:26:11 GMT
    KHQ.COM - We were completely overwhelmed at how this community came together yesterday for the Q6 Cares, Inland NW Shares drive yesterday to support the victims of the Carlton Complex Fire who lost their homes. All day Monday from 5am - 6:30pm we were inundated by a constant flow of people wanting to make a difference.>>
    KHQ.COM - We were completely overwhelmed at how this community came together yesterday for the Q6 Cares, Inland NW Shares drive yesterday to support the victims of the Carlton Complex Fire who lost their homes. All day Monday from 5am - 6:30pm we were inundated by a constant flow of people wanting to make a difference.
    >>