Mars rover Curiosity drills second hole to gather samples for analysis

May 20, 2013 at 8:29 PM
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PASADENA, Calif., May 20 (UPI) -- NASA says its Mars rover Curiosity has drilled a hole in a second rock target to gather samples for analysis in the rover's internal science lab instruments.

In only the second time a sample has been collected from inside a rock on Mars, Curiosity used the drill on its robotic arm to collect a sample from the interior of a rock dubbed "Cumberland," NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., reported Monday.

The hole Curiosity drilled into the rock Sunday is about a half inch in diameter and about 2.6 inches deep, scientists at JPL said.

The science team said it would analyze the material from Cumberland to double check findings from an earlier rock sample.

Preliminary findings from analysis of that sample by Curiosity's on-board laboratory instruments indicate the location where it was gathered had, at least long ago, environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.

The new sample was gathered about 9 feet to the west of where the first was taken, both in a shallow depression in the Gale Crater dubbed "Yellowknife Bay," JPL researchers said.

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