These pictures, courtesy of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, show the results of the Mars rover Curiosity’s first drilling operations that occurred in mid-February. The central hole above was drilled on Feb. 8 into a rock called “John Klein” where the rover attempted its first sample. The hole is 0.63 inch in diameter and 2.5 inches deep. Curiosity drilled the more shallow hole to the right two days before as a test of the equipment.
The next day, a laser mounted on the rover’s Chemistry and Camera instrument burned 10 spots—labeled in red in the picture above—into the rock powder drilled the day before. The electromagnetic signature resulting from the laser pulses burning the freshly ground rock were analyzed to help scientists understand the mineral composition of Mars.
The animated image below, taken by the rover’s right front hazard-avoidance camera, shows the drill in action on Feb. 8 on its first rock-sampling mission.