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Nasa's Mars Curiosity Rover Robot Drills Hole In The Planet's Surface

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Nasa'a Mars Curiosity Rover has become the first robot to ever drill into a martian rock to collect a powdered sample from the red planet.

It is believed the sedimentary rock was once in contact with water and could hold clues to whether there was ever life on Mars.

A drill on the end of its robotic arm bored a hole 1.6 centimeters wide and 6.4 centimeters and will carry it to the robot's on-board labs for analysis.

mars rover drill rock

The hole, centre, and the previous test run to the right

John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator for the agency's Science Mission Directorate said in a statement: "The most advanced planetary robot ever designed is now a fully operating analytical laboratory on Mars.

"This is the biggest milestone accomplishment for the Curiosity team since the sky-crane landing last August, another proud day for America."

Curiosity has been on Mars for six months and spent days preparing for the drilling including some practice runs during last week.

Louise Jandura, chief engineer for Curiosity's sample system outlined the work that has gone into getting to this point.

mars curiosity

The drill on the end of Curiosity's robotic arm

She said: "To get to the point of making this hole in a rock on Mars, we made eight drills and bored more than 1,200 holes in 20 types of rock on Earth."

The rock Curiosity drilled is called "John Klein" in memory of a Mars Science Laboratory deputy project manager who died in 2011.