Drilling into Mars
Click on the image for the animation
This animation of NASA's Curiosity rover shows the complicated suite of operations involved in conducting the rover's first rock sample drilling on Mars and transferring the sample to the rover's scoop for inspection. The drilling and sample transfer took place on Feb. 8 and 20, 2013, or sols 182 and 193, Curiosity's 182nd and 193rd Martian days of operations.
The animation begins with Curiosity using its rotary percussive drill on a Martian rock. After drilling, the percussion mechanism is used to swish the sample around in the internal chambers of the drill bit to clean the bit and then transfer the sample to the scoop. The black halo around the drill illustrates when the drill's percussion mechanism is active, either hammering into rock or shaking the drill bit to help move the sample. An orange halo highlights use of the vibration mechanism that is part of the Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) subsystem. CHIMRA's vibration mechanism is also used to move the sample to the scoop before the scoop is imaged to verify that sample was collected.
The animation has been sped up 25 times compared to real time. The actions shown here were actually executed on two different sols so that engineers could check segments of the process.
The next steps, not shown in the animation, involve the rover processing the powdered rock and delivering it down the inlets for the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument and the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument.