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.

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