Curiosity’s first drill hole on Mars

Curiosity's MAHLI image of the first-ever drill hole on Mars. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS
Curiosity’s MAHLI image of the first-ever drill hole on Mars. Click for larger version.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

The Curiosity rover has just successfully used its drill on a Martian rock for the first time! This image was taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on sol 180 (February 6, 2013).

This first “mini-drill test” using the rotating drill bit produced a hole about 1.6 centimeters (0.63 inches) in diameter and 2 centimeters (0.8 inches) deep. The powdery drill cuttings will be studied before the second “full” test is done at maximum depth (a few centimetres) and a sample is collected for on-board laboratory analysis.

The powdered rock is distinctly grey, while the dust coating on the rock is the typical reddish-brown that Mars is famous for. This first-ever drilling on Mars will provide samples for analysis that have come from below the surface of a rock, preserved and untouched for millions of years.

Paul Scott Anderson is a freelance space writer with a life-long passion for space exploration and astronomy. He started his blog The Meridiani Journal in 2005, which is a chronicle of planetary exploration. He also publishes The Exoplanet Report e-paper. In 2011, he started writing about space on a freelance basis, and now also currently write for AmericaSpace and He has also written for Universe Today and SpaceFlight Insider, has been published in The Mars Quarterly and has done supplementary writing for the well-known iOS app Exoplanet for iPhone and iPad.