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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