Curiosity sol 177 self-portrait (zoom) NASA / JPL / MSSS / Ed Truthan

Color view Curiosity on Mars from HiRISE, sol 157 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped this color photo of Curiosity on the rover’s sol 157 (January 14, 2013). The rover was at the “Snake River” site within Yellowknife Bay. It is rotated to place north at left in order to show it larger on the website. NASA / JPL / UA / Emily Lakdawalla

A new rover self-portrait and a new color image of Curiosity from orbit

Posted By Emily Lakdawalla

2013/02/04 05:40 CST

Today it’s sol 178 for Curiosity and the first drilling work is proceeding, though slowly. Curiosity made her first toothmark in a Martian rock on sol 174. They didn’t command the bit to rotate at all for this first test; they just used the percussion mode, bang-bang-banging at the rock. They did make a little bite but the sequence errored out before it went to completion, which resulted in sol 175 being a “runout” sol (in which the rover executes a “safe” sequence involving remote sensing but no arm work). Although annoying, these kinds of anomalies are totally normal with arm work on Mars, especially for any operation being done for the first time, and I’m sure there will be more of them as Curiosity proceeds.

They got “after” photos of the sol 174 drill spot on sol 176, and then got a very similar sequence to work to completion, resulting in another bit-mark on a different spot on the rock. Here’s a summary of the drilling activities to date, including a really cool sol 172 photo of the drill bit shot using ChemCam. To my eye this rock looks super soft, but I don’t know how much my interpretation is worth. We’ve been discussing what the images imply at unmannedspaceflight.com.

Read more: A new rover self-portrait and a new color image of Curiosity from orbit | The Planetary Society.

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