Feeds

Alien invader plunges tool into virgin 'Windjana', sniffs powders

NASA boffins wide-eyed as nuke tank drills into sandstone

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Curiosity, NASA’s nuclear-powered truck on Mars, has drilled into the planet’s surface for the third time, taking a chunk out of a sandstone slab dubbed Windjana.

Sample-collection drill hole on Martian sandstone target 'Windjana'

Hole in, done ... where Curiosity drilled into the Martian ground (Credit: NASA)

The dust-world 'droid sank its drill into the chosen site on Monday, taking a powdered sample of the rock for its onboard science lab to study. The teeny hole in the target, just 1.6cm in diameter and 6.5cm deep, was confirmed in photographs snapped by the rover and beamed back to Earth.

The fresh drilling is just alongside the shallower test hole Curiosity made last week, which gave researchers an idea of what may be inside Windjana from the tailings around the modest excavation.

“The drill tailings from this rock are darker-toned and less red than we saw at the two previous drill sites," said Jim Bell of Arizona State University, deputy principal investigator for Curiosity's Mast Camera (aka Mastcam).

"This suggests that the detailed chemical and mineral analysis that will be coming from Curiosity's other instruments could reveal different materials than we've seen before. We can't wait to find out!"

Two of the rover’s previous planetary penetrations were in mudstone in the Yellowknife Bay area, and both gave boffins evidence of an ancient lakebed and a chemical energy source that may have helped to support microbial life. With the sandstone probing, the scientists hope to see which wet materials pulled sand-sized grains together and cemented them into rock.

Windjana is located at a waypoint known as The Kimberley, about 4km southwest of Yellowknife Bay and along the route toward the mission’s ultimate destination on the lower slopes of Mount Sharp.

The sample from the sandstone will be sieved and checked before being delivered for analysis to CheMin and SAM - the Chemistry and Mineralogy and Sample Analysis at Mars instruments. The Martian lab may even take this sample to go, analysing the powder as the rover continues its drive towards Mount Sharp. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rockin' boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.