NASA has turned on the drill of the Curiosity rover on Martian soil for the first time, marking the latest stage in the exploration and analysis of the Red Planet.

NASA has turned on the drill of the Curiosity rover on Martian soil for the first time, marking the latest stage in the exploration and analysis of the Red Planet.

 
The space agency previously employed the hammer action of the tool, but now the robot has drilled directly into the ground, resulting in deposits that will be collected for analysis on the rover's built-in laboratories, where they will be analysed for their chemical and mineralogical compositions.
 
The move is more significant than it sounds, because NASA has to be careful when using any instruments to dig holes in the planet's surface, due to fears that it could lead to unintended damage. The engineers on the project have therefore carefully checked to ensure the drill is working as intended and that the area chosen for drilling is suitable and safe.
 
A mark left in the Martian ground after the first test use of Curiosity's drill.
 
Curiosity's mission is to explore the possibility that the Gale Crater on Mars once supported life, making drilling an essential component in accessing rocks that could record the planet's history.
 
The rover, which landed on Mars last August, has been taking pictures and sending them back to NASA, resulting in some amazing glimpses of the planet. It will soon be directed to drill deeper into the ground to collect samples that could potentially change our understanding of the planet.
 
Source: BBC
Images Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS