In an activity called the "mini drill test," NASA's Mars rover Curiosity used its drill to generate this ring of powdered rock for inspection in advance of the rover's first full drilling. Curiosity performed the mini drill test and used its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera to record this image of the resulting hole and cuttings during the 180th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars (Feb. 6, 2013).
The hole is 0.63 inch (1.6 centimeters) in diameter and about 0.8 (2 centimeters) deep. The location is on a patch of flat rock called "John Klein." If the cuttings are judged to be suitable for processing by the rover's sample handling mechanisms, the mission's first full drilling is planned for a nearby spot on John Klein. The full drilling will be the first rock drilling on Mars to collect a sample of material for analysis.
Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, developed, built and operates MAHLI and the MAHLI engineering model. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project and the mission's Curiosity rover for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Curiosity and the mission's Vehicle System Test Bed rover were designed and built at JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.