The Mars rover Curiosity drilled into the surface of Mars for the first time, and now proud scientists have sent out a photo of Curiosity’s big scoop. Adding to a mission chock full of firsts, this is the first time a rover has ever drilled into an alien rock and collected a sample.
Seeing is believing, Scott McCloskey of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada-Flintridge, Calif., said in a news release Wednesday, and “seeing the powder from the drill in the scoop” is proof the sample-gathering was a resounding success.
The point of the mission is to search for signs of water and conditions that could have once supported life on the Red Planet. And it seems to have been one high-five after another since the rover landed on Mars on Aug. 5. Robotic arms have been stretched, wheels tried out, instruments tested. The successful drilling and sample-gathering are just the latest hurrahs.
Fans on social media have followed the progress of the mission via @MarsCuriosity. The Twitter feed has shown the extent to which personality can be conveyed in 140 characters. The account has built quite a fan base since it began tweeting, even prior to launch. It has more than 1.2 million followers. There’s a Wall-E feel to some of the “rover’s” tweets, which inject some humanity into this piece of machinery that’s busily rolling into history millions of miles away. Below are some highlights.
— Amy Hubbard