Mars Curiosity Rover Update: First Drill from Mount Sharp
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has collected its first drill sample from the base of Mount Sharp. The scientific allure of the layered mountain inside a crater is what drew the team to choose this part of Mars as its landing site. Late Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014, the rover's hammering drill chewed about 2.6 inches deep into a basal-layer outcrop on Mount Sharp and collected a powdered-rock sample. Data and images received early Thursday at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory confirmed success of this operation. The powder collected by the drilling is temporarily held within the sample-handling mechanism on the rover's arm. "This drilling target is at the lowest part of the base layer of the mountain, and from here we plan to examine the higher, younger layers exposed in the nearby hills," said Curiosity Deputy Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of JPL. "This first look at rocks we believe to underlie Mount Sharp is exciting because it will begin to form a picture of the environment at the time the mountain formed, and what led to its growth. "