Curiosity rover completes first drill into Mars bedrock


At the center of this image from NASA's Curiosity rover is the hole in a rock called "John Klein" where the rover conducted its first sample drilling on Mars.



The Curiosity rover has collected the first samples of Martian rock after it drilled into the bedrock on Mars for the first time.

The car-sized rover used its arm-mounted drill to create a hole 0.63 inches wide and 2.5 inches deep in a section of sedimentary bedrock on Friday, reports

The drilling was a major test of the rover's capabilities and was the first time any robot has performed this type of complicated maneuver on the surface of another planet.

According to NASA, the rover will analyze the rock powder collected by the drill and look for evidence that the environment on Mars was once wet.

"The most advanced planetary robot ever designed now is a fully operating analytical laboratory on Mars," said John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator for the agency's Science Mission Directorate.

"This is the biggest milestone accomplishment for the Curiosity team since the sky-crane landing last August, another proud day for America."

After Curiosity finishes analyzing the rock sample, AP reports that it will set out on its most complicated task yet.

The rover will drive to a mountain where scientists hope Curiosity will uncover signs of organic molecules, the chemical building blocks of life. The drive to the mountain is expected to take nine months to complete.