Curiosity Close to Becoming a Mars Miner, Will Use Its Drill for the First Time

It will be the first time a sample from below the surface of a planet has been recovered

  Curiosity at Snake River - the string of rocks in the middle - the mosaic image shows Curiosity's arm in various positions, as it moves about
Curiosity is set to choose a lucky rock to be drilled for the first time. The drill is the Mars rover's last of ten instruments to be tested.

Curiosity is set to choose a lucky rock to be drilled for the first time. The drill is the Mars rover's last of ten instruments to be tested.

A suitable rock must be chosen to make sure not to damage the drill, which would be catastrophic in the multi-billion dollar mission, and that the samples recovered are of scientific importance.

The drill is one of the most important instruments on the rover as it will enable scientists to recover and analyze material from below the surface of an extraterrestrial body. It will be the first time this has been done on another planet.

Rock composition holds plenty of useful info for scientists that are looking into the history of Mars to determine how it arrived at its current conditions even though it once had a thick atmosphere and very likely, running surface water.

NASA hasn't said anything about the drilling spot, but Universe Today reports that news is coming in the next few days. The location will very likely be near Curiosity's current location in the Yellowknife Bay, near the Snake River rock formation where it spent its holidays.

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By    14 Jan 2013, 10:41 GMT