First Curiosity Drilling Sample in the Scoop
This image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows the first sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover's drill.
PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has relayed new images that confirm it has successfully obtained the first sample ever collected from the interior of a rock on another planet. No rover has ever drilled into a rock beyond Earth and collected a sample from its interior.

Transfer of the powdered-rock sample into an open scoop was visible for the first time in images received Wednesday at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

"Seeing the powder from the drill in the scoop allows us to verify for the first time the drill collected a sample as it bore into the rock," said JPL's Scott McCloskey, drill systems engineer for Curiosity. "Many of us have been working toward this day for years. Getting final confirmation of successful drilling is incredibly gratifying. For the sampling team, this is the equivalent of the landing team going crazy after the successful touchdown."

The drill on Curiosity's robotic arm took in the powder as it bored a 2.5-inch (6.4-centimeter) hole into a target on flat Martian bedrock on Feb. 8. The rover team plans to have Curiosity sieve the sample and deliver portions of it to analytical instruments inside the rover.

The scoop now holding the precious sample is part of Curiosity's Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) device. During the next steps of processing, the powder will be enclosed inside CHIMRA and shaken once or twice over a sieve that screens out particles larger than 0.006 inch (150 microns) across.

Small portions of the sieved sample later will be delivered through inlet ports on top of the rover deck into the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument and Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument.

In response to information gained during testing at JPL, the processing and delivery plan has been adjusted to reduce use of mechanical vibration. The 150-micron screen in one of the two test versions of CHIMRA became partially detached after extensive use, although it remained usable. The team has added precautions for use of Curiosity's sampling system while continuing to study the cause and ramifications of the separation.

Different Tools for Different Purposes on Mars
This set of images from Mars shows the handiwork of different tools on three missions to the surface of Mars.
The sample comes from a fine-grained, veiny sedimentary rock called "John Klein," named in memory of a Mars Science Laboratory deputy project manager who died in 2011. The rock was selected for the first sample drilling because it may hold evidence of wet environmental conditions long ago. The rover's laboratory analysis of the powder may provide information about those conditions.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project is using the Curiosity rover with its 10 science instruments to investigate whether an area within Mars' Gale Crater ever has offered an environment favorable for microbial life. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

An image of the drill's rock powder held in the scoop is online at: http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16729 .

For more about the mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/msl .

You can follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .

Watch related drilling animation and video.

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    From a position in the shallow "Yellowknife Bay" depression, NASA's Mars rover Curiosity used its right Mast Camera (Mastcam) to take the telephoto images combined into this panorama of geological diversity.

    A lip defining the edge of Yellowknife Bay is visible in the middle distance near the center of the image and in the farther dis... more

  • This image from the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity shows details of rock texture and color in an area where the rover's Dust Removal Tool (DRT) brushed away dust that was on the rock.

    This image from the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity shows details of rock texture and color in an area where the rover's Dust Removal Tool (DRT) brushed away dust that was on the rock. This rock target, "Wernecke," was brushed on the 169th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's mission on Mars (Jan. 26, 2013). This ... more

  • This image from the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity shows details of rock texture and color in an area where the rover's Dust Removal Tool (DRT) brushed away dust that was on the rock.

    This image from the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity shows details of rock texture and color in an area where the rover's Dust Removal Tool (DRT) brushed away dust that was on the rock. This rock target, "Wernecke," was brushed on the 169th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's mission on Mars (Jan. 26, 2013). This ... more

  • This image shows the location of the 150-micrometer sieve screen on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, a device used to remove larger particles from samples before delivery to science instruments.

    This image shows the location of the 150-micrometer sieve screen on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, a device used to remove larger particles from samples before delivery to science instruments. The sieve lies within the Collection and Handling for In-situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) structure, which is on the end of the rover's turret, or arm... more

  • This image shows the location of the 150-micrometer sieve screen on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, a device used to remove larger particles from samples before delivery to science instruments.

    This image shows the location of the 150-micrometer sieve screen on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, a device used to remove larger particles from samples before delivery to science instruments. The sieve lies within the Collection and Handling for In-situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) structure, which is on the end of the rover's turret, or arm... more

  • This image shows the location of the 150-micrometer sieve screen on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, a device used to remove larger particles from samples before delivery to science instruments.

    This image shows the location of the 150-micrometer sieve screen on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, a device used to remove larger particles from samples before delivery to science instruments. The sieve lies within the Collection and Handling for In-situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) structure, which is on the end of the rover's turret, or arm... more

  • These schematic drawings show a top view and a cutaway view of a section of the drill on NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars.

    These schematic drawings show a top view and a cutaway view of a section of the drill on NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars. The section view on the right also indicates the flow of material within the drill bit.

    Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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    This set of images from Mars shows the handiwork of different tools on three missions to the surface of Mars. The action of each of the tools has sometimes been referred to as drilling, but the functions of the tools have been different for each mission.

    On the left is a rock on which NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity used th... more

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    Most of the holes are the same diameter as hol... more

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    The green highlighted surface shows t... more

  • This image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows the first sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover's drill.

    This image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows the first sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover's drill. The image was taken after the sample was transferred from the drill to the rover's scoop. In subsequent steps, the sample was sieved, and portions of it delivered to the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument and the Sample Analysis at ... more

  • This image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows the first sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover's drill.

    This image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows the first sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover's drill. The image was taken after the sample was transferred from the drill to the rover's scoop. In subsequent steps, the sample was sieved, and portions of it delivered to the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument and the Sample Analysis at ... more

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Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

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