“Mars Rover Curiosity will soon begin what NASA officials call “the mission’s most challenging activity since the landing” as the 2-ton robot prepares to drill into Martian soil for the first time.
The Mars Science Laboratory team has identified an area of Mars with a highly diverse set of rocks as their first test bed for the untried drill. Of particular interest to the NASA team is the abundant evidence that the rocks — located in a low-lying depression of bedrock known as Yellow Knife Bay — once held water.
“The furthest thing we drove to is the jackpot unit,” MSL project scientist John Grotzinger told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday. … Many of the rocks are cracked and feature veins of carbon sulfate. The team’s belief is that the carbon sulfate most likely accumulated in the cracks because of water.