Washington, March 1: SA’s Curiosity rover has conducted a new drill method on Mars, marking the first operation of the rover’s drill since a motor problem began acting up more than a year ago. This early test produced a hole about a one-centimetre deep at a target called Lake Orcadie — not enough for a full scientific sample, but enough to validate that the new method works mechanically, SA said on Wednesday. This was just the first in what will be a series of tests to determine how well the new drill method can collect samples. If this drill had achieved sufficient depth to collect a sample, the team would have begun testing a new sample delivery process, ultimately delivering to instruments inside the rover.
Curiosity has used its drill to collect samples 15 times since landing in 2012. Then, in December of 2016, a key part of the drill stopped working. If the previous method was like a drill press, holding the drill bit steady as it extends into a surface, it is now more freehand. The rover is using its entire arm to push the drill forward, re-centering itself while taking measurements with a force sensor. That sensor was origilly included to stop the rover’s arm if it received a high-force jolt, SA said.It now offers Curiosity a vital sense of touch, preventing the drill bit from drifting sideways too much and getting stuck in rock. (IANS)