Drill baby, drill. NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has drilled its first hole into Mount Sharp, a 3.4 mile high Martian mountain.
“This drilling target is at the lowest part of the base layer of the mountain, and from here we plan to examine the higher, younger layers exposed in the nearby hills,” said Curiosity Deputy Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of JPL.
“This first look at rocks we believe to underlie Mount Sharp is exciting because it will begin to form a picture of the environment at the time the mountain formed, and what led to its growth.”
The drilling was confirmed to be a success by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Check out the image of the hole below. The hole measures 0.63 inches in diameter and about 2.6 inches deep.
Curiosity’s next step will be getting the drill sample into a scoop on its rover arm. After that, the sample will be assessed to see if it is safe for Curiosity’s internal instruments. The Curiosity team wants to make sure the sample won’t clog the hardware.
Curiosity will continue to study Mount Sharp in the future. “Curiosity flew hundreds of millions of miles to do this,” says Curiosity Deputy Project Manager Jennifer Trosper.
In other Martian news, check out this strange looking rock in the image below.
It looks like a nearly perfect round ball. The rock is a lot smaller than it looks in the picture and measures just 1 centimeter wide. The sedimentary rock is a leftover from a time when lakes and rivers flowed on the red planet.
Image credits: NASA/JPL