Science

Mars Curiosity rover hammers rock that NASA suspects was once exposed to water

mars rover curiosity rock drill

Preparing to drill its first hole into a Martian rock, NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover tested its own strength by hammering a rock this weekend that may have once been under running water.

NASA outfitted Curiosity with its biggest drill yet, which actually only drills down 1 inch. The drill is an important part of the mission, so Curiosity must first test the tools to make sure they’re performing as expected in the Mars environment. The “pounding” seems successful, as NASA is moving forward with its drill plans.

Curiosity’s main mission is to discover anything that might support the idea that life can exist on Mars. The rover is stationed in an area that “shows many signs of past exposure to liquid water, including light-colored mineral veins that were apparently deposited by flower water long ago,” according to a blog post from NASA.

NASA also pointed out a tweet from Bobak Ferdowski (or as you may know him, that guy with the mohawk from the Jet Propulsion Lab) that read, “We tapped this rock on Mars with our drill. Keep it classy everyone.”

We caught up with Ferdowki and had the pleasure of interviewing him on camera at the 2012 Crunchies. He accepted the award for Best Technology Achievement, since Curiosity seems be a bit tied up at the moment. Ferdowski surprised us all when he said Curiosity is actually a lady! That is, NASA considers all of its rovers to be female.

Check the video for more insight on the Curiosity program. We have to apologize for the audio, though! It has some static-y parts:

Mars rock image via NASA