Nasa’s Curiosity Mars rover has finally drilled deep enough into a rock to acquire a powdered sample for analysis.
The fine grey material from the 6cm-hole will be sieved and inspected before being delivered to the robot’s onboard labs in the coming days.
It will represent a historic first in planetary exploration - never before has the interior of a rock on another world been probed in such a way.
The US space agency said the drilling was an immense achievement.
"This is the biggest milestone accomplishment for the Curiosity team since the sky-crane landing last August, another proud day for America," said John Grunsfeld, Nasa’s associate administrator for science.
Drilling is absolutely central to the rover’s mission in Gale Crater, a deep bowl sited on Mars’ equator.
Curiosity is investigating whether past environments at this location could ever have supported life, and getting inside rocks to analyse their make-up will provide some of the most telling evidence.
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Operating out of South Africa during the Apartheid era in the early 1980’s, Dr. Wouter Basson launched a secret bioweapons project called Project Coast. The goal of the project was to develop biological and chemical agents that would either kill or sterilize the black population and assassinate political enemies. ...