Published: Fri, May 25, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Curiosity’s new percussive drilling produces first rock samples since 2016

Curiosity’s new percussive drilling produces first rock samples since 2016

Curiosity rover made this drill hole in a rock named "Duluth". This image, captured by Curiosity's Mast Camera, is white balanced and contrast enhanced.

Curiosity's drilling capabilities were halted in December 2016, as the engine that runs the Curiosity drill became unreliable. "Those are 2 essential inches of development from 60 million miles [97 million kilometers] away".

This technique, called Feed Extended Drilling, keeps the drill's bit extended out past two stabilizer posts that were originally used to steady the drill against Martian rocks. "We're thrilled that the result was so successful", he added.

Drilling is an important part of Interest's $2.5 billion objective, which is examining Mars' previous prospective to host life and how the Red World's environment has actually altered gradually.

NASA's Curiosity rover successfully drilled a 2-inch-deep hole in a target called "Duluth" on May 20. The rover used a specially designed instrument to transfer powder from the drill to those instruments &mdash but that instrument won't work with the drill bit permanently extended, as it is in the new technique.

Interest showed the brand-new strategy in a restricted style previously this year, tiring about 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) into a various Mars rock. The samples are acquired from Gale Crater, which the rover has been exploring since 2012.

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To make FED's Martian debut as festive as possible, the Curiosity team had specifically chosen a new drilling site and had moved the rover downhill along Vera Rubin Ridge in the Gale Crater, the Inquisitr reported earlier this week. This problem forced the mission's leadership to look for alternative ways to fix the drill using mock Curiosity on Earth.

"This first maneuver is the largest we'll conduct", said Fernando Abilleira of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), InSight's Deputy Mission Design and Navigation Manager.

"We've been developing this new drilling technique for over a year, but our job isn't done once a sample has been collected on Mars", said Tom Green, a systems engineer at JPL who helped develop and test Curiosity's new drilling method.

NASA performed a number of tests to determine if it was feasible to drill this way, initially just poking at hard surfaces with the extended drill bit to see if the rover could adequately hold it in place.

Percussion technique works, but engineers must improve the process by which the Rover delivers samples of dusty rocks in your two internal chemical laboratory for analysis. "With each new test, we closely examine the data to look for improvements we can make and then head back to our testbed to iterate on the process".

The rover has always relied on a drill to pulverize rocks into powder, which it can then analyze using x-rays to identify what minerals are present.

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