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SCI/TECH: Opportunity Fails to Dig Hole in Rock

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posted on Mar, 8 2004 @ 08:18 AM

During its 42nd sol on Mars, NASA's Opportunity attempted to grind a into a target called "Flat Rock". However, the rover's rock abrasion tool turned out to be no match for the chunk of martian rock.
NASA scientists now hope to learn more about the rock's makeup by scraping its exterior. All indications are that the tool is working, NASA said.

Researchers also plan to have Opportunity use its alpha particle X-ray spectrometer to identify the rock's chemical elements before attempting to grind away at it again later this week.

Meanwhile, on the other side of Mars, Opportunity's twin rover, Spirit, traveled nearly 86 feet Saturday, bringing its total odometer reading to more than 822 feet. But because Spirit had to maneuver around several obstacles on its journey, it made a net gain of just 72 feet toward its ultimate destination, a large depression scientists have nicknamed the "Bonneville Crater."

Spirit was expected to use an array of scientific tools to take measurements of its surroundings before continuing toward the crater.

The twin rovers' $820 million mission was designed to seek geological clues to whether ancient Mars had enough water to have supported life. Both rovers have now found evidence of past water activity on the planet, NASA announced last week.

Related ATSNN Stories
- Mars once 'Drenched' in Water.
- Number of hits on Mars Rover site breaks record.

Related Websites
- Mars Exploration Rover Mission
- NASA's Opportunity Update Archive
- Mars Rover Special Report

posted on Mar, 8 2004 @ 09:23 AM
Yeah, to actually call what the rover is doing "drilling" is a bit of a mis-statement. The rover can not apply very much axial force to this tool, so it is basically rubbing the rock away, not drilling. I have been surprised at what was achieved on the other rock. But once you hit something abrasion resistance or high strength...I don't think you're going to be able to count on too much penetration.


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