NASA’s Curiosity rover drills into Mars

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Rover drill
The hole that Curiosity drilled.

Ever since NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars in August of 2012, it’s been busy collecting data for scientists. Navigating over rough terrain to check out the sights, Curiosity has survived the harsh environment of the Red Planet pretty well. However, the martian landscape may once have been much less hostile, which is why Curiosity is drilling for evidence of a life-friendly environment.

The rover performed a test drill on Tuesday, targeting the rock called “Windjana”, and left a hole 0.8 inches deep. Beneath the reddish sand was a gray rock powder, and now scientists are trying to figure out why some sandstones are harder than others.

See, depending how soft or tough the stone is, researchers can calculate the evolution of the surrounding environment. Hard rocks take longer to fade away, and so they provide evidence of an older time period.

Eventually, the rover will head to its ultimate destination, the three-mile high Mt. Sharp in the middle of Gale Crater. There, scientists hope to study a wealth of rocky minerals that could provide a glimpse into the Red Planet’s mysterious past.

Images courtesy of NASA.