NASA's Mars Rover Curiosity Drills First Hole on Mars in Human History

First Posted: Feb 09, 2013 10:35 PM EST

Humans have drilled a first hole into Mar's rock for the first time in history according to NASA's announcement on Saturday.

The Mars rover Curiosity implemented its first drill on Friday and the result was successful according to the images received by NASA.

Curiosity drilled into a rock called "John Klein," named for a Mars Science Laboratory deputy project manager who passed away in 2011.

The size of the hole that Curiosity drilled was approximately 2.5 inches (6.35 cm) and 0.6 inches (1.52cm) wide.

The implementation opens the way for the first-ever analysis of fresh Martian subsurface material and gives the last significatn checkout of the robot's gear and instruments, researchers said.

"This is the biggest milestone accomplishment for the Curiosity team since the sky-crane landing last August." John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator for the agency's Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement on Saturday.

"The most advanced planetary robot ever designed now is a fully operating analytical laboratory on Mars,"

Curiosity will process the sample over the next few days, researchers said. Prior to the rock powder analytis, part of it will be used to scour traces of material that may have been deposited onto the hardware while the rover was still on Earth.

"We'll take the powder we acquired and swish it around to scrub the internal surfaces of the drill bit assembly," said Curiosity drill systems engineer Scott McCloskey, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. "Then we'll use the arm to transfer the powder out of the drill into the scoop, which will be our first chance to see the acquired sample."

Curiosity landed inside Mars' huge Gale Crater on the night of Aug. 5 to determine if the area has ever been capable of supporting microbial life. Curiosity also have 10 science instruments and 17 cameras.

The analysis will show the chemical and mineralogical compositions present in the powder, telling scientists clues as to the conditions and environment under which the rock was created.

JPL manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

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