Washington, June 5 (IANS) For the first time in more than a year, the Curiosity rover is analysing drilled samples on Mars in one of its onboard labs, NASA has said.
“This was no small feat. It represents months and months of work by our team to pull this off,” said Jim Erickson, project manager of the Mars Science Laboratory mission, which is led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
NASA engineers had to improvise a new way for the rover to drill rocks on Mars after a mechanical problem took the drill offline in December 2016.
The rover drilled its last scheduled rock sample in October 2016.
On May 20, a technique called “feed extended drilling” allowed Curiosity to drill its first rock sample since October 2016.
On May 31, an additional technique called “feed extended sample transfer” successfully trickled rock powder into the rover for processing by its mineralogy laboratory.
Delivery to its chemistry laboratory will follow in the week ahead, NASA said on Monday.
Testing of both the new drilling method and sample delivery will continue to be refined as Curiosity’s engineers study their results from Mars.