The Curiosity rover has successfully completed its first drilling tests, using its drill to “hammer” a couple of holes in a slab of bedrock. This first hammering or “percussion” test involves hitting the bedrock with the drill to create a shallow depression, but without any rotation of the drill bit.
This “hammering” test was done twice; a lighter-coloured powder has spilled out from the two oval-shaped depressions created by the drill.
The next tests will include actual drilling, first creating a shallow hole and then a deeper one. After these tests to ensure that the drill is working properly, another hole will be drilled to obtain samples for analysis by the CheMin and SAM instruments.
Thanks to Olivier de Goursac for his beautiful composite image above, showing the rover’s robotic arm and drill in position with the landscape of Yellowknife Bay and Mount Sharp behind it; be sure to click the image for the full-size version!