Feeds

NASA's Curiosity rover set to give Mars its THIRD HARD DRILLING

Sandy Windjana almost ready to get up close and personal with US nuke truck

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

NASA’s Curiosity team has signed off on the newest drilling site for the Martian rover – and plans to stick its third ever hole on the planet into the Windjana rock in the next few days.

Dusted off area of the Windjana drilling target for Curiosity

Dusted off area of the Windjana drilling target for Curiosity. Credit: NASA/JPL

The nuclear-powered truck has spent the weekend dusting off and examining its chosen target, dubbed Windjana, after a gorge in Western Australia, and the slab of sandstone has met with the scientific team’s approval.

"In the brushed spot, we can see that the rock is fine-grained, its true colour is much greyer than the surface dust, and some portions of the rock are harder than others, creating the interesting bumpy textures," said team member Melissa Rice of the California Institute of Technology.

"All of these traits reinforce our interest in drilling here in order understand the chemistry of the fluids that bound these grains together to form the rock," she added.

Windjana is the first sandstone target for Curiosity’s drill, after two Martian mudstone slabs from Yellowknife Bay were analysed last year. The first two drilling sites gave teams evidence of an ancienet lakebed environment and a chemical energy source that provided conditions billions of years ago that were favourable for microbial life.

Boffins are hoping that investigating sandstone will tell them more about the wet process that turns sand deposits into rocks and what the composition of the fluids was that tied the grains together.

Before Curiosity can get drilling, it still needs to do its preparatory “mini-drill”operation, as a further check for readiness. The team expects the rover to start the main borehole in the next few days to collect powdered sample material from the interior of the rock. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
Another step forward for diamond-based quantum computers
Square cut or pear-shaped, these qubits don't lose their shape
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.