Mars Curiosity rover to drill the planet's rock for biological studies
Dr. Lalit Kishore | 18 Jan 2013

NASA scientists are all set for signaling the Curiosity rover to reach and drill into a flat Martian rock to study its history and biology as a part of the solar system.

The rock to be drilled by the Curiosity rover has been identified and in the coming few days the rover will reach the rock to do its next job. The study of the rock will reveal whether or not the environmental conditions on Mars had been favorable for microbes.

According to project scientist John Grotzinger, the rock powder will be transferred to the rover's onboard chemistry lab to study and report the mineral and chemical makeup of the Martian region.

It may be recalled that the $2.5 billion Curiosity mission launched in 2011 with a high-tech interplanetary rover with a Teflon drill.

According to NASA, this time the following biological objectives of the mission will be accomplished.

(1) Determining the nature and inventory of organic carbon compounds.

(2) Investigating the chemical building blocks of life (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur).

(3) Identifying features that may represent the effects of biological processes (biosignatures).

Reportedly, the rover has a 2.1 m long arm with a cross-shaped turret holding five devices that can spin through a 350-degree turning range. The arm makes use of three joints to extend it forward and to stow it again while driving. It has a mass of 30 kg and its diameter, including the tools mounted on it, is about 60 cm.