First drilling photos from Mars

Closeup of one of the holes drilled taken by the MAHLI (Mars Hand Lens Imager) camera taken on Feb. 3, 2013.  Grey powdery dust – could it be clay-related – lines the hole. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

The first pictures of the Curiosity rover’s drill in operation appeared in the raw image archive this weekend and show a gray powder piled up around the holes. Much red dust covers the Red Planet, but once you get below the surface, the true rock color is revealed.

Curiosity is test drilling at the John Klein site in Yellowknife Bay inside Gale Crater. Once it’s cleaned its sample containment container mounted above the drill with grit from the drilling process, actual sampling and analysis will begin. That’s probably still a few days away.

In this quick animation, pre-drilling and drilling photos show pebbles shifting position due to vibration from the drill. Credit: NASA

Look closely at test drill animation above and you’ll see small pebbles about a foot away shift position as the slabby rock they’re on shakes with each percussive jab of the drill. Almost like being there.

Picture of the robotic arm with the drill in position taken by Curiosity’s Mastcam on Feb. 1, 2013. Click for hi-res image. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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About astrobob

My name is Bob King and I work at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. as a photographer and photo editor. I'm also an amateur astronomer and have been keen on the sky since age 11. My modest credentials include membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) where I'm a regular contributor, International Meteorite Collectors Assn. and Arrowhead Astronomical Society. I also teach community education astronomy classes at our local planetarium.

3 thoughts on “First drilling photos from Mars

  1. Great, thanx for sharing Bob.
    You once said to be fascinated to find analogies of some Mars surface with places in your region. The 3-500m high land near Trieste and in Slovenia which I often quote to you for my darker skies, Karst, has, under the red/brown humus, white / light grey rocky soil. The composition is totally different, but still white rock underneath.

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