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PostSubject: Curiosity Mars rover takes historic drill sampl   Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:11 am



Nasa's Curiosity Mars rover has finally drilled deep enough into a rock to acquire a powdered sample for analysis.

The fine grey material from the 6cm-hole will be sieved and inspected before being delivered to the robot's onboard labs in the coming days.

It will represent a historic first in planetary exploration - never before has the interior of a rock on another world been probed in such a way.

The US space agency said the drilling was an immense achievement.

"This is the biggest milestone accomplishment for the Curiosity team since the sky-crane landing last August, another proud day for America," said John Grunsfeld, Nasa's associate administrator science.

Drilling is absolutely central to the rover's mission in Gale Crater, a deep bowl sited on Mars' equator.

Curiosity is investigating whether past environments at this location could ever have supported life, and getting inside rocks to analyse their make-up will provide some of the most telling evidence.

Engineers have waited a full six months before deploying the drill tool, which is held on the end of the rover's 2.2m-long robotic arm.

more here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21399857

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