A hole on Mars
The Curiosity rover has learnt a new way to drill holes on the Red Planet.
NASA’s Curiosity rover drilled a hole 5 centimetres deep in a target called “Duluth” on May 20, 2018. The hole is about 1.6 centimetres across.
It was the first rock sample captured by the drill since October 2016, as a mechanical fault meant it has been out of action since December 2016.
Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory had to find a new way for the rover to drill in order to restore this ability.
The new technique, called Feed Extended Drilling (FED), keeps the drill’s bit extended out past two stabiliser posts that were originally used to steady the drill against Martian rocks. It lets Curiosity drill using the force of its robotic arm, a little more like a human would while drilling into a wall at home.