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Curiosity Rover Collects First Martian Bedrock Sample

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the cosmetics-use-in-3-2-1 dept.

Mars 51

littlesparkvt writes "NASA's Curiosity rover has, for the first time, used a drill carried at the end of its robotic arm to bore into a flat, veiny rock on Mars and collect a sample from its interior. This is the first time any robot has drilled into a rock to collect a sample on Mars."

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Was there an article? (5, Informative)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845017)

I've been clicking on TFS, but no webpage comes up. Is there a link somewhere?

Re:Was there an article? (4, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845025)

Oh, and frist smaple!

Re:Was there an article? (0)

SnapperHead (178050) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845195)

If I only had mod points

Re:Was there an article? (3, Funny)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845073)

I got turned on just reading the summary, who needs an article.

...flat, veiny rock... ...a sample from its interior.

Re:Was there an article? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42845223)

I got turned on just reading the summary, who needs an article.

...flat, veiny rock... ...a sample from its interior.

You're a very disturbed person, please seek professional help ASAP.

Wait ! Not THAT kind of professional! :)

Re:Was there an article? (3, Informative)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845173)

Wow! Bedrock! (0)

hey! (33014) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845027)

It's a place right out of his-tor-ry.

Re:Wow! Bedrock! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42845287)

It's a place right out of his-tor-ry.

Yeah! And when that sample was drilled, you could hear, "Yabba Dabba Doooo!" from the flight director.

Re:Wow! Bedrock! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year and a half ago | (#42846547)

I thought that was Rudolf. Now I'm confused.

Article (5, Informative)

skelly33 (891182) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845081)

Link [nasa.gov]

Re:Article (3, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845327)

The hell with bedrock! Curiosity has found a piece of metal [theatlantic.com] embedded in rock. Doesn't appear to be Mardi Gras beads either.

They should be tugging on that thing to see what happens!

Metal Penis in rear view mirror (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year and a half ago | (#42846515)

So far it does not appear they plan to turn back to study the "metal penis" closer. It took a few weeks before anybody noticed the artifact in photos and the rover has moved on since. It would be a crying shame to not go back to check it out.

I bet it's a worn-down meteorite, but you never know.

Re:Metal Penis in rear view mirror (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#42846611)

Didn't realize it was that 'old'. I guess no one will steal it.

Re:Metal Penis in rear view mirror (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42847149)

So far it does not appear they plan to turn back to study the "metal penis" closer.

The hunchback and the withered arm weren't even as surprising.

Re:Article (1)

FooRat (182725) | about a year and a half ago | (#42846787)

That'll turn out to be the tip of an old statue of liberty, weathering in the sand

Initial Results... (1)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845117)

...indicate the bedrock originally formed during a phase of Mar's geological history refered to as the Yabbadabbadoall Time.

Re:Initial Results... (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845359)

There's a Burns Formation on Mars; maybe the exogeologists are Simpsons fans?

Re:Initial Results... (2)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about a year and a half ago | (#42846115)

It's named after former MIT mineralogist Roger Burns.

Coat hangar (1)

Skiron (735617) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845139)

coat hangar [theregister.co.uk]

This is weird, or is that wired?

Re:Coat hangar (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845275)

Zoom in far enough and you can see the "Craft Services" stamp. Damn lazy grips.

Re:Coat hangar (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42846073)

What's a coat hangar? Seems like a waste of space to use a hangar for one coat. People usually keep airplanes in hangars.

Erosion (1)

kipsate (314423) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845179)

Let me guess. Inside of rock is chemically exactly the same as its surface. At least, that is what I would expect since the rocks eroded.

Re:Erosion (4, Informative)

sensei moreh (868829) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845393)

Erosion exposes a new surface to weathering, and a weathered surface can have a chemical composition significantly different than the unweathered interior.

Re:Erosion (3, Informative)

kipsate (314423) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845507)

Wind, temperature changes and radiation from the sun pretty much define the weather on Mars. Any changes to the chemical composition on the rock surface will be due to these factors. Therefore don't expect anything exciting.

Re:Erosion (4, Interesting)

Kaldaien (676190) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845751)

Do not forget that volcanism and liquid water were also once a factor in weathering. There is no life, that we know of, to speed up erosion - so it is possible that drilling only a few cm will reveal geologic history on different timescale than the equivalent depth on Earth.

Granted the top layer, which is all we have studied up until now will be nothing exciting (likely layers of dust deposited over millennia), but unexposed layers have a lot of historic potential. The layers may even be old enough to portray Mars during a more interesting period, perhaps when it still had a respectable magnetic field and atmosphere.

Re:Erosion (3, Informative)

Ford Prefect (8777) | about a year and a half ago | (#42847067)

Granted the top layer, which is all we have studied up until now will be nothing exciting (likely layers of dust deposited over millennia), but unexposed layers have a lot of historic potential.

The stuff they're looking at is rock that's (very) slowly being further exposed through erosion by the wind - the rocks formed early in the history of Mars, then newer, upper layers have eroded away, exposing this particularly old stuff dating from around the time life began on Earth. If Mars had similar conditions, then it's a good place to look for remnants of organic molecules...

The aim of the drill is to get to rock that's not been significantly irradiated by cosmic rays. From this paper on The Sample Analysis at Mars Investigation and Instrument Suite [springer.com] :

Ancient indigenous organic molecules could be also destroyed or transformed by the ionizing radiation in the shallow subsurface of Mars. Due to a thin martian atmosphere and lack of magnetic field, the surface of Mars has been bombarded continuously by the energetic particles of the galactic and solar cosmic rays (GCRs and SCRs) for much of its history. Unlike UV radiation which is absorbed in the first mm of soil (Mancinelli and Klovstad 2000; Cockell et al. 2005), GCRs can penetrate down to 1 meter below the surface (Dartnell et al. 2007). Over the long period of exposure, cosmic rays particles have the capacity to transform complex organic compounds into macromolecules having different, more refractory chemistry and/or into smaller molecules broken from a parent molecule. The latter case may occur either by direct impacts or by secondary reaction with oxidative radicals produced by radiation in the immediate vicinity of the organic molecules (Dartnell et al. 2008). It is not clear how such long-term degradation would affect SAM’s measurements of organic compounds at the ancient geologic outcrops because the rates of erosion are highly variable on Mars (Golombek et al. 2006). Erosion of the ancient rock would naturally expose “fresh” (less irradiated) material to the surface with potentially “unbroken” organic molecules. Furthermore, SCRs, which are less energetic than GCRs, cannot penetrate and destroy organic matter deeper than 2 cm below the surface (Pavlov 2011). Therefore, MSL’s drilling and sampling of outcrops from 5 cm below the surface will exclude the effects of degradation of organic matter by solar cosmic rays. Finally, using the radiolysis constants of amino acids Kminek and Bada (2006) and Pavlov (2011) demonstrated that simple organic compounds with masses below 100 amu, should have a good chance to survive long-term exposure to GCRs in the shallow subsurface even extremely low surface erosion rates. Results from Curiosity’s Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) will provide modern radiation characteristics that will help improve long-term modeling of the surface radiation on Mars and possibly constrain its affects on near surface organic chemistry.

Re:Erosion (1)

Time_Ngler (564671) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845771)

The article states that "The rock is believed to hold evidence about long-gone wet environments." Surely NASA didn't go through all the trouble of making a drill if they didn't expect to get something from it.

Re:Erosion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42849575)

Getting a fresh sample is standard operating procedure when doing geology on Earth. What the rover bored into is pretty obviously different from what's on the surface if only because of the reddish dust on the surface, whereas the ground-up rock from the boring is greenish grey. And that's just the visibly obvious differences. Leave a rock exposed to any atmosphere for a few thousand or few million years, and there will be changes. Even on the Moon there are subtle differences between the exposed surfaces and the interior of rocks on the surface. While you're right that the rates of chemical weathering should be a lot less on Mars than on Earth, they are still there, and time isn't in short supply.

Re:Erosion (3, Informative)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year and a half ago | (#42847899)

However, the surface is covered in cruft, baked in the sun, exposed to the atmosphere. Note the colour difference between the drill-hole and the rest of the surface.

By drilling down even a little, you are ensuring that you really are seeing raw bedrock. A pure sample, which you can compare with the surface of the same rock, subtract one from the other and be left with just the cruft. Now you can check whether you have been correctly... errr... correcting for cruft in your samples of rocks which are too far out of Curiosities path to reach with anything other than the laser-and-spectrograph.

Bedrock! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42845213)

Twitch, twitch

Time Travelling Rover? (0)

dmomo (256005) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845253)

Yabba Dabba DOOOO!

First robot to drill into a rock? (3, Funny)

Sesostris III (730910) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845285)

This is the first time any robot has drilled into a rock to collect a sample on Mars.

Given the millions of robots we have sent to Mars over the past millennia, this is the first to drill into a rock? I find that hard to believe!

Re:First robot to drill into a rock? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42845369)

I'm intrigued by your ideas, and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:First robot to drill into a rock? (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845481)

Only recently NASA was able to license the "drilling" function from Amazon.com

Re:First robot to drill into a rock? (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845493)

Your planet may have sent millions of robots over the last thousand of our earth years, but this is the first one humans have sent that has drilled into rock.

Re:First robot to drill into a rock? (1)

Flipstylee (1932884) | about a year and a half ago | (#42846971)

Your planet may have sent millions of robots over the last thousand of our earth years, but this is the first one humans have sent that has drilled into rock.

He left his tinfoil hat at the door.

Re:First robot to drill into a rock? (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year and a half ago | (#42846243)

It's the first to collect and remove samples from the hole, not the first to drill outright. Spirit and Opportunity both ground into rocks with a wide drill bit (almost like a sander), but put the analyzer on the hole directly rather than extracted material from it.

Spirit and Opportunity were essentially sniffers, but Curiosity is an eater.

Not the first occurrence of drilling in Bedrock (4, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845313)

I find that hard to believe, seeing as both the Flintstones and Rubbles have young children with young, attractive wives.

Re:Not the first occurrence of drilling in Bedrock (1)

sconeu (64226) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845817)

Bam-bam doesn't count. He was adopted.

Had to read this twice because I thoight it said.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42845531)

"... fat, veiny cock..."

First Yaba daba doo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42845605)

Yaba daba doo!

She'e got beautiful red skin, ma! (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#42845927)

Well, whaddya know! A nerd finally got to drill something.

Spoiler.. sorry. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42846301)

...in one week it will be determined that the Martian bedrock is very similar to Earth's and no life will be found in it.

Sorry to spoil it for you so early.

Bring back a SPERM sample (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42846555)

then we can talk.

Rock Abrasion Tool - 2004 (1)

1000101 (584896) | about a year and a half ago | (#42846709)

Spirit and Opportunity had the Rock Abrasion Tool [wikipedia.org] back in 2004. That grinded the surface of rocks to expose the interior.

Does this mean NASA is cheating? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42846899)

Everyone knows you can't dig bedrock, even with a diamond pickaxe.

For once... (1)

farrellj (563) | about a year and a half ago | (#42847935)

Wow, a situation where you can say "Drill, baby drill" ,and not feel embarased about it! :-)

"Collects" (1)

Jacek Poplawski (223457) | about a year and a half ago | (#42849579)

Curiosity eats Mars.

Interiour vs surface (1)

Bram Stolk (24781) | about a year and a half ago | (#42852017)

Forgive my ignorence, but:
Why would the interiour of a rock differ from its surface?
I would expect rocks to be pretty homogenous.

What a mess! (1)

AndyKron (937105) | about a year and a half ago | (#42853445)

Are they going to clean up that mess?
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