Drill Rover, Drill

Curiosity's First Sample Drilling
Curiosity’s First Sample Drilling

Nasa’s Mars Science Laboratory — NASA’s Curiosity rover has, for the first time, used a drill carried at the end of its robotic arm to bore into a flat, veiny rock on Mars and collect a sample from its interior. This is the first time any robot has drilled into a rock to collect a sample on Mars.

Survey: 71 percent of Americans are confident that humans will go to Mars

The fresh hole, about 0.63 inch (1.6 centimeters) wide and 2.5 inches (6.4 centimeters) deep in a patch of fine-grained sedimentary bedrock, can be seen in images and other data Curiosity beamed to Earth Saturday. The rock is believed to hold evidence about long-gone wet environments. In pursuit of that evidence, the rover will use its laboratory instruments to analyze rock powder collected by the drill.

“The most advanced planetary robot ever designed is now a fully operating analytical laboratory on Mars,” said John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. “This is the biggest milestone accomplishment for the Curiosity team since the sky-crane landing last August, another proud day for America.”

For the next several days, ground controllers will command the rover’s arm to carry out a series of steps to process the sample, ultimately delivering portions to the instruments inside.

“We commanded the first full-depth drilling, and we believe we have collected sufficient material from the rock to meet our objectives of hardware cleaning and sample drop-off,” said Avi Okon, drill cognizant engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Rock powder generated during drilling travels up flutes on the bit. The bit assembly has chambers to hold the powder until it can be transferred to the sample-handling mechanisms of the rover’s Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) device.

Before the rock powder is analyzed, some will be used to scour traces of material that may have been deposited onto the hardware while the rover was still on Earth, despite thorough cleaning before launch.

“We’ll take the powder we acquired and swish it around to scrub the internal surfaces of the drill bit assembly,” said JPL’s Scott McCloskey, drill systems engineer. “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.”

Investigating Curiosity’s Drill AreaInvestigating Curiosity’s Drill AreaNASA’s Mars rover Curiosity used its Mast Camera (Mastcam) to take the images combined into this mosaic of the drill area, called “John Klein.”

“Building a tool to interact forcefully with unpredictable rocks on Mars required an ambitious development and testing program,” said JPL’s Louise Jandura, chief engineer for Curiosity’s sample system. “To get to the point of making this hole in a rock on Mars, we made eight drills and bored more than 1,200 holes in 20 types of rock on Earth.”

Inside the sample-handling device, the powder will be vibrated once or twice over a sieve that screens out any particles larger than six-thousandths of an inch (150 microns) across. Small portions of the sieved sample will fall through ports on the rover deck into the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument and the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument. These instruments then will begin the much-anticipated detailed analysis.

The rock Curiosity drilled is called “John Klein” in memory of a Mars Science Laboratory deputy project manager who died in 2011. Drilling for a sample is the last new activity for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Project, which is using the car-size Curiosity rover to investigate whether an area within Mars’ Gale Crater has ever offered an environment favorable for life.

80 thoughts on “Drill Rover, Drill”

  1. Xrep –
    Just 2.5 Billion dollars.
    Except that’s not a rat hole it’s 2 holes on Mars.

  2. The hole on the right is their test hole.

    To make sure it would drill, and to ‘clean the bit’ they cut it first.

    Then they drilled the first ‘clean’ sample hole. On the left.

  3. NASA scientists have learned to do so much with so little they ought to be held up as the model of government efficiency. Finding origins of life on Mars for less than the cost of 2 weeks of Afghan war madness? Priceless

  4. What a cool picture… it looks like a sheep head to me. The dark hole is it’s eye… and the hole with the crescent is it’s nostril.

    CBob… I really miss your stuff on Newsvine.

  5. On Earth when one drills such a hole , the wind blows that rock powder everywhere. The ‘air’ on Mars was dead calm to leave such a stunning image. That is a kick-ass drill to make rock turn into ‘flour’.
    That is really an amazing drill, it doesn’t cut rock, it turns rock into powder.

  6. RR –

    NBC ruined Newsvine. In one fell swoop.

    It’s a monkey wedding , where groom’s family hurls feces at the guests.

  7. If we reinstituted a _fair_ draft, the cost of our armed forces would drop dramatically, and our eagerness to engage in behavior that benefits no one beyond the usual special interests, would also drop dramatically.

  8. RR, when my mom married my stepfather she went back to being a Catholic. I think she was when she was a child. I was raised Methodist. My stepfather was a devote Catholic. They were married for 30 years and he and I were very close. Mom died in 2003. As part of my grief process, I attended church often with my stepfather and then decided I would join the Catholic church. I started going to the classes with my SF as my sponsor. I was into the classes for a while when the lady doing the classes let it slip that she and many of the other church ladies were saying a Novena for GWB to win the election, his second term. That finally shocked me back into my senses again. I said, oops, I’ve made a big mistake here and never went back to the classes. The End. Back to the church of the big river. Phew.

  9. CBob…
    guess there was just too much news being reported over there… NBC couldn’t have that.

    Carol… I subscribe to the church of the mountain, woods, and the woodpecker.

  10. Anyone experiencing slower than usual page builds? Seems like I am, not sure if its just the luck of the tubes, or if I need to expand bandwidth and data capacity. Server techs told me that day is coming, but thought I had another couple months or so before we’d start slowing day for that reason.

  11. guess there was just too much news being reported over there… NBC couldn’t have that.

    No, I think the demands of mobil made them do it , but they throw a bunch of lawyers, and wood chucks in a room to do it.
    The navigation is horrible. And you can’t vote a story up the vine anymore .
    No more money paid out, in 6 years I made about $135 over there. It comes out to about 2 cents an hour.

  12. RR-
    One thing they did right, my thousands of climate stories in the last 6 years are still in my file.

  13. sturg, i’m begging you guys not to paste those long urls in comments, they cause a world of hurt, like the one up above running off the page. please highlight text and only use the link button for the entire url — like this: Comment Editing Tools

  14. RR-
    When I joined NewsVine , Griffth Park was burning down. That was Jan. 2007. That summer I seeded one fire story after another. Italy and Greece, dozens and dozens of people trapped on small roads by 1100F degrees , it was 114F for days in Athens just before the fires.

  15. yeah i know sturge but linking the entire url as your text is problematic. simply highlight a headline or other text, then use the link button to paste in the url

  16. Some great things about throwing money down a hole in Mars as opposed to one in Afghanistan.
    First all that money stays here in the US funding good paying jobs as opposed to lining the pockets of corrupt Afghani officials

    Unlike the tech used to develop all those drones which highly classified and unusable for commercial purposes. The rover tech is moving out into the world creating even more high paying jobs.

    So lets see more money wasted on Mars and less money wasted in Afghanistan and other ‘stan type places.


  17. Is there a longer lived criminal gang in Eastern History?

    What the church did in the “New World” filled up my plate . My first trip to Pecos made me really look at that.
    It was destroyed in the 1680 revolt. A huge adobe church sits off to the side, never rebuilt. Lot’s of kivas around it, where the good folks of New Mexico , killed every monk they could find.
    Now, 333 years later, I think the good people of New Mexico , still have a much better idea of the cosmos, that the Pope in Rome.

  18. Craig, I have a lot of free time to bop around many web pages, and this one has had the slowest page builds of all, for quite some time. The past two, three days, it has been slower yet. Just weighing in here. 😎

  19. I find the papal scene intriguing as well. Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan, has to be my pick, my guess.

    I may sound like the Jesse Ventura of pope-predictin’, but I believe Pope Benedict lived too long for the transitional pope he was chosen to be, and after eight years, the Rome Cardinals had had enough and told the old man to pack it in and move to the old nun’s home, where he is indeed going to “pray and reflect” for the rest of his life.

    Anne Thompson of Nightly News reported that Pope Benedict witnessed JPII’s “disease and suffering” and didn’t want to put the Church through that ordeal again.
    And then there’s this…remember what happened to the other Ratso when he told Joe Buck “I can’t walk anymore, oh Joe! I can’t walk anymore!” Yikes.

  20. yeah I know, Dexter, trying to figure it out. techs keep suggesting I might have to scale back on commenting plugins that most blogs don’t have, like video embedding, editing function and stuff. but determined to find another fix. It has long been a problem to provide advance features for commenters because most blog hosts don’t want them, and the tools available are often crudely made, create conflicts and slowdowns

  21. The Pecos Ruins , and the Imus Ranch are cheek and jowl.
    They were the largest taxing district in New Mexico when Spanish came.

    6,000 bushels of corn headed East bound , thousands of buffalo skins moving West bound.

    Later, the Santa Fe Trail travelers camped on their grass.

  22. In 1680, the horse was cast out. 40 years later the Comanche rode into Taos that fall in the hundreds. Trading Spanish captives.

    And pretty much setting the terms of the discussion for the next 150 years.

    Till John Wayne killed them in the 1950’s.

  23. Well I set up a support ticket with Network Solutions for a full review of the site to see if they can identify anything that might be slowing us down. Now that they’ve fixed the recent critical errors we can get a deeper look under the hood.

  24. For thousands of years before all that , people walked to Pecos to trade.

  25. Yeah, Craig, a different blog I go to everyday is maintained by a really good tech man, and he finally just disabled our edit button, totally removed it. It’s a big pain to make sure we make no mistakes, because once we hit “send”, we have lost control of the text.
    Years ago, Chicago journo Bob Greene wrote that the fax machine was the greatest invention ever…I say it’s spelchek. 😯

  26. Thanks Craig, for staying on top of this slow page-build issue.

    And beat-down Hamden, Connecticut residents, who are shoveling FORTY INCHES of snow today, hang in there…pitchers and catchers reported today in Florida and Arizona for Spring Training! A warm sunny day is coming.

  27. Craig,
    Don’t understand why the embedded video is so important if it causes slow down problems. It’s just as easy to go to an embedded link to view the video.

    The edit feature is very helpful.
    Could a lot of the archives be saved on a remote hard drive (or remote site) if they are causing the site to cost more because of band width. Don’t understand much about how it works, but was wondering if all the archives going so far back are necessary if they are causing any problems.

  28. Chloe, thanks for the ideas — any or all or none of those things could be a problem. I’m just going to have our server company study everything and see what they come up with, rather than play pin the donkey with my feet, which is all I can do on my own.

  29. yep, Dex, I wish I could find somebody with the know-how to build a truly user-oriented blog forum from scratch. like I said, so many blog hosts don’t really give a damn about their commenters, except as stage props, so there is very little demand for well-built tools to empower users, only hosts. what I’ve stitched together here is a bit of a rube golberg contraption but should be no reason we can’t tune it up somehow. let’s see what the tech folk conjure up.

  30. Between the Pecos Ruins, and Imus, is Greer Garson’s land . She bought before the A-Bomb came.

  31. The Forked (pronounced fork-ed with two syllables) Lightning Ranch was originally formed in 1925 by Tex Austin, who bought 5,500 acres of land on the old Pecos Pueblo Grant. Austin claimed he was born and raised on a cattle ranch in Texas but, in reality, his name was Clarence Van Nostrand and he was born into a strict St. Louis household.

  32. Well, if we aren’t throwing much money into ’em, it’s a good thing those holes are so small.

    I’d tell IxG’s Pope Joke, if I knew it.

  33. For his new ranch, Austin hired young Santa Fe architect John Gaw Meem, then in his 20s, to design and build a ranch house on a bluff above the confluence of the Pecos River and the Glorieta Creek. Meem built the house with the “Pueblo Revival” style elements that later became predominant in Santa Fe.

  34. I really don’t have any Pope jokes; that one was it.

    Ok, I’ll give it a go:

    Q: Why does the Pope wear red Prada shoes?

    A: To keep his pants up!

  35. Benedict walks into a bar and says,”Bartender, I just quit my job. Pour me a drink befitting years my accomplishments.”

    The bar tender thinks a moment and then sets up an empty shot glass.

    Not funny, eh?

  36. Austin, who bought 5,500 acres of land on the old Pecos Pueblo Grant.

    The north side of Don’s land.

  37. A second owner bought the 5,500-acre ranch and shortly after sold it to Buddy Fogelson, a Dallas oil man and rancher. Fogelson bought adjacent land, bringing the total acreage to 13,000 acres. Fogelson was introduced to Academy Award-winning actress Greer Garson by actor Peter Lawford on a visit to Hollywood. Instantly taken with her, and she with him, they were married a year later in 1949 on Canyon Road in Santa Fe at the Catron family residence.

  38. The Pope, wearing all his lacey finery, gets lost in the airport. Then he spots his old and bitter high school rival, Field Marshal Count Wolgang von Punchenau in all his gold braided finery.

    Walking briskly up to his old enemy the Pope demands,

    “Skycap, where is Gate 7?”

    Pointing, the Field Marshal replies coldly,

    “It is exactly behind you, Madame.”

  39. Garson and Fogelson were pivotal in the construction of the Visitor Center at the Pecos National Monument. Dissatisfied with the design for a modern building, they advocated for a traditional Spanish-Puebloan design and in 1983, the National Park Service began construction on the center with 2-foot thick adobe walls. The Fogelsons contributed half the cost. They later contributed most of the cost of a museum wing and contributed or paid for many of the artifacts in the museum.

  40. When Fogelson died in 1987, the original 5,500-acre ranch was willed to Garson and the remaining acreage to his son. His son later divided his property, selling one parcel to Val Kilmer and the other to Jane Fonda. In 1991, in failing health, Garson sold her part of the ranch to The Conservation Fund, which then donated it to the National Park Service. Garson died in 1996.

  41. As one drives into the Pecos National Park. You pass by the “Lighting Ranch’.

  42. Craig,

    Please don’t do too much fine tuning.

    One of the things I find most rewarding about the ‘mix’ is that it is relatively easy for a techno-primitive to use.

    I know the glitches have been a bit more frequent as of late, but please don’t let anyone talk you into reinventing the wheel.

    Other sites do less and are as a result far less interesting, and have far less traffic. The traffic that they do have doesn’t hold a candle to those who comment here. 😉

  43. My plans for tomorrow include watching the SOTU by the President, and not watching the STFU by Rubio and Runt. 😡

  44. jace I hear ya, hopefully there’s nothing that needs doing on the “front end” — I just think there’s something in the engine room that needs mending, without losing features, and I’m determined to get at it. Now that we’re basically up and running is a good time to have the propeller heads poke around, tune up the speed.

  45. Let’s get this straight.
    The ruins at Pecos, plus 5.500 acres. Plus Jane Fonda ,and Val Kilmer own another 7,500 acres.

    Then comes the Imus Ranch.

    All of this is upstream of the Imus Ranch.

  46. Ha,rhinestone cowboys the lot of them.

    Couldn’t sit a horse if they had the saddle horn stuck up their asses. 😉

  47. Is 2 against 1 considered fair and balanced these days?

    If both ruby and runt are both going to yack on the State of the Union, why not Representative Grayson?

  48. CBob, i’m not following your Greer Garson to Don Imus train of thought here. As my old newspaper editors used to say, what’s the nut graf?

    Here’s something a techie suggested tonight for regulars here — empty your browser cache and clean up your cookies — we deleted some minor stuff from the site that your browsers might still be looking for, causing delays. Dunno, sounds too simple to me but can’t hurt. Nothing wrong with clean cache and cookies — for your life as well as your browser

  49. I have to vent a little here. I watched Imus in the Morning for years on msnbc. Imus was always sick and bitching about the crummy studio in Secaucus, how the air was so bad and the studio itself so pitiful. Still, he was hooked up with the NBC reporters who were great…Engel, Miklaszewski, Thompson, Brokaw, Williams, Russert, Mitchell,many more, who all did great phoners or came in to the studio. He also interviewed many sports stars and broadcasters and movie stars…and even Bush41. Hell, he actually had Cheney on once, quite a diverse, interesting group, and his appearances made Craig Crawford a must-see call-in appearance or studio visit.
    He maintained his guest list when he signed on with Patrick Gottsch at RFD Network, then Imus moved to Fox Business News.
    Now he features his boorish loud-mouth wife Diedre and her counterpart , Lis Weil in a silly seg called “Blond on Blond”. He interviews authors of crummy self-help books…he has SE Cupp on his show, he has BILL O’REILLY on! He loves Hannity and Cavuto. Today he interviewed some woman (nobody has ever heard of these people) who wrote a feel-good book about “relationships” or something…I had to shut it off.
    Through all this Imus brags about his numbers, but his show isn’t half the show it was when he was on NBC. Last week he call all the business news “tiresome.” Amen, brother! What do I care for constant information on the Dow or the price of crude told over and over again? Imus just signed another long contract extension. Why? He frequently only works a few days a week, preferring to fly off to Texas to watch Wyatt Imus rope calves. Ah, nuts! Sometimes I just turn the channel over to watch Savannah Guthrie.

  50. We’ve come from Muppets arguing in a bar to a highly stylized blog where we can vent and talk and comment on various topics daily. The show must go on!
    And that is my little nut graf.

  51. Amen Dex, show must go on indeed, and you’re still the nightwatchman. made me think of this Mark Twain quote about one of his characters in “Roughing It” — never really understood it, but like the arrangement of words:

    He had a good memory, and a tongue hung in the middle. This a combination which gives immortality to conversation.

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