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February 8, 2013 AT 8:01 am

Before/After Image of Rock Drilling on Mars

Above, a before/after animated GIF of Curiosity’s drill test on Martian rock.

A blink pair of images taken before and after Curiosity performed a “mini drill” test on a Martian rock shows changes resulting from that activity. The resulting hole and surrounding pile of drill cuttings are not the only changes.

The images were taken by the telephoto camera of the Mast Camera instrument on Curiosity. The diameter of the hole created by the drill is 0.63 inch (1.6 centimeters). The before image was taken on the 178th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity’s mission on Mars (Feb. 4, 2013). The drill test was performed on Sol 180 (Feb. 6, 2013) and the afterwards image was taken the same sol.

The test drilling was a preparation for the mission’s first full rock drilling. The location is on a patch of flat rock called “John Klein.” If the cuttings are judged to be suitable for processing by the rover’s sample handling mechanisms, the mission’s first full drilling is planned for a nearby spot on John Klein. The full drilling will be the first rock drilling on Mars to collect a sample of material for analysis.

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