Thursday, February 7, 2013

First Drilling on Mars!

It's been two months since I last wrote an entry.  It's not that nothing has been happening - quite the opposite.  I've been trying to adapt to being back home and teaching while also helping run the Curiosity mission.  And Curiosity has been VERY busy.  Just this morning, we got confirmation that we've drilled a mini-hole in a rock on Mars.  It's about 1 cm deep and is both an engineering test and a bit-cleaning exercise.  The act of drilling removes contaminants from Earth off the bit.  The next step is to drill a 5 cm deep hole.  That one will send sample up through the drill bit, into the sample processing chambers, and eventually to the CheMin and SAM instruments for analysis.  We are really looking forward to know what minerals are present as well as what comes off the sample when we heat it for SAM.  This is really an exciting adventure.  Stay tuned!  There is likely to be a press conference soon!

By the way, this morning I did an interview on Insight, Capitol Public Radio.  Unfortunately, we didn't have confirmation of the first drill hole until 10 minutes before I went online, and I didn't have an internet connection.  Thus, I couldn't announce these great results there!