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06.30.2008

Mars Rover Gets the Drill

View the video 'Mars Rover Gets the Drill

It takes a lot of drilling to prepare to use a drill 100 million miles away, beyond the reach of humans. The Mars Science Laboratory rover is wasting no time doing just that. With an industrial-strength drill, the rover will pulverize the inside of hard, volcanic rocks on Mars and study the powder.

The drill is so strong it can hold the rover in place even if all six of its wheels slip on a 20-degree slope. If the drill gets stuck in a rock, the rover can hammer and spin the drill to pull it back out. As a last resort, the rover can release the drill bit and replace it with one of the extras on board. The more practice the rover gets on Earth, the better it will be able to fulfill its goal of determining if Mars ever could have supported life.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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