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Wednesday February 20, the Mars Curiosity Rover team held a news conference to explain the techniques, challenges, and highlights of the recent success at drilling several centimeters into rocks. Curiosity drilled a test hole, then a sample hole on February 8. The shallow hole on the right was made two days earlier. This is the first use of the drill for rock sample collection. Imaged by Curiosity's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on Sol 182. The sample hole is 1.6 cm in diameter and 6.4 cm deep.

The news conference on February 20th showed the sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover's drill after the sample was placed in the rover's scoop. The raw image has not been adjusted. The sample will be passed through a 150 microns sieve and placed in the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument and the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument. The scoop is 4.5 cm wide. Imaged by Curiosity's Mast Camera on Feb. 20, or Sol 193.

The full news conference was recorded and is linked. There are brief presentation by five scientists and engineers with visuals. They take about 30 minutes. A question and answer session follows which is also very informative.

Explore the site on your own with an interactive below the squiggle.

The Astronomy Picture of the Day for February 22 carried a large panoramic composite of Curiosity at its current drilling site. The image includes the sample drilling holes in the rocks directly in front of Curiosity. The rover is sitting on an outcrop of rock called 'John Klein'. The rover's robotic arm is not visible in the mosaic. The imaging equipment is mounted on a turret at the end of the arm. Motions and rotations on the arm allowed it to acquire this mosaic's component images. The arm was not included in the panorama of images used in the mosaic.

In the text of the APoD site is a link to an amazing interactive of the panorama. With it, you can zoom, turn left and right, point up and down at will. It gives you nearly a full screen view of the Martian landscape. The site also provides the embed code for this smaller version below. In this version, you click the big red run arrow. Then, click the window and slowly drag left or right, up or down. Either the mouse wheel or the zoom control at left controls size. This smaller version does have a full screen mode, too.

Have a great time exploring.

Mars Panorama - Curiosity rover: Martian solar day 177 in Out of this World

Results of the sample testing will be coming. No date is announced. So, stay tuned.

Originally posted to Astro Kos on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 12:03 PM PST.

Also republished by SciTech.

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