back to article Curiosity raises mighty robotic fist, punches hole in Mars

NASA's nuclear Mars truck Curiosity has punched a hole in the planet for posterity with its robotic arm drill. Curiosity's first sample drilling Curiosity's first sample drilling. The shallow indentation on the right was part of its preparations, NASA says. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS The rover bored into a flat, veiny …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have visions of the Wallace and Gromit moon-cooker-alien thingy following Curiosity with a tub of Pollyfilla...

    1. Ian Yates

      Presumably built from the remains of the probes that first "penetrated the Martian surface"... by high speed impact

    2. Mips


      Nah! That's sand and cement.

  2. James 51

    Some of the comments on the BBC are just comical. My favourite was for scientists to stop wasting money and put it into benefits.

    1. Shrimpling

      I never see anything good in the BBC comments just "This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Isn't that what Speak You're Branes / The Twat-O-Tron is powered with? Never mind global warming, it's Daily Mail-inspired pent-up-frustration-at-all-fings-diff'runt that's going to drown us all in an endless supply of moronic drivel.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Those metallic martians, coming to our planet, taking our benefits etc. etc

  3. Aqua Marina

    That pic would indicate...

    ... that the surface of mars has been painted red?

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: That pic would indicate...

      or has been oxidised?

      1. Christian Berger

        Re: That pic would indicate...

        Oxidised rock? That would mean there were chemists on Mars, wouldn't it. Or at least laboratory assistants.

    2. Andus McCoatover

      Re: That pic would indicate...

      By Romanian painters?

  4. Magister


    That looks just like one of my DIY jobs!

    1. Silverburn

      Re: Funny

      There's no blood or severed finger ends in shot though, so it's definitely not one of mine.

    2. Minophis

      Re: Funny

      If they really want to impress us Curiosity could drill a few more holes and then put up some shelves and maybe asemble an IKEA flat pack wardrobe as a peace offering to any passing martians.

      1. Mari

        Re: Funny

        Yep, and add milk and cookies...

      2. Chris Miller

        Re: IKEA

        Nipping back to the store to replace the inevitable missing bolt might be a bit tricky, however.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: IKEA

          Here on Earth, ordering a hole like that drilled will set you back at least 50 quid, plus VAT.

          And possibly union dues.

  5. Fink-Nottle

    NASA drills into Mars; next day the Pope resigns. Coincidence? I think not.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Curiosity - I drilled Mars

    But all the time I was thinking about drilling Venus...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Curiosity - I drilled Mars

      Oh cmon! You lost the chance to say: Drilling Uranus!

      1. MrT

        Yeah, bu (t)...

        ... uranus is too gassy.

        1. Silverburn

          Re: Yeah, bu (t)...

          Additionally, uranus' small size and non-optimal location does make [orbital] insertion tricky.

  7. TeeCee Gold badge

    "The shallow indentation on the right was part of its preparations, NASA says."

    I'll have to remember that excuse for the next time my first attempt hits the ruddy rebar......

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: "The shallow indentation on the right was part of its preparations, NASA says."

      Pissed myself at that, can't believe you only got 1 upvote!!!

      1. ratfox

        Re: "The shallow indentation on the right was part of its preparations, NASA says."

        Then again, a penetration that is only 1.6cm wide and 6.4cm deep is really nothing to write home about… I hope everyone here has seen better!

        1. Vic

          Re: "The shallow indentation on the right was part of its preparations, NASA says."

          > a penetration that is only 1.6cm wide and 6.4cm deep is really nothing to write home about

          Look, it's been cold, right?


  8. Robin


    Was this drilling followed by it breathing in through its robot teeth and saying "looks like I'll have to rip the 'ole lot out mate, it's gonna cost yer" and then going for a robot brew?

    1. Silverburn

      Re: Robocowboys

      Robodentists too.

    2. Sorry, "Sorry that handle is already taken" is already taken.
      Thumb Up

      Re: Robocowboys

      Ah, the old robot tooth-drier.

      *inhale through teeth* "That's gonna cost, guv'nor!" :-D

  9. InsaneLampshade

    "another proud day for America"

    ...of course, lets just ignore all of the international involvement shall we.

    1. Silverburn

      Re: "another proud day for America"

      American definition of international = "Hawaii".

  10. Neill Mitchell

    Drill bits made in the UK

    By a company in Dorset.

    1. Silverburn

      Re: Drill bits made in the UK

      And it actually worked???

      First thing out of Dorset that did...

      Yes, yes, I know the way.

  11. Michael H.F. Wilkinson


    Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged is not in control of Curiosity. Otherwise he would use that punch to write a very rude word indeed (like Belgium)

  12. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    I reckon we'll discover that it was a rock.

    Surely cracking the rock open would tell you more about the history of the rock, rather than just drilling a shallow hole into it and collecting dust?

    But, to be honest, geology never interested me. There's a million times more things we could go looking for on Mars that might actually prove useful. "It had water millions of years ago" doesn't seem to be one of them (though, obviously, it's all science, and might have some third-order-knock-on-effect that brings about some real useful knowledge for exploration).

    I'd still be much happier if we were just sending a thousand tiny robots there, and just driving them all away from a central spot. We'd get a lot more area covered, a lot more pretty pictures, find a lot more odd things that deserve closer attention and a failure won't mean failure of the mission.

    Or maybe I just want to play "battle bots on Mars", so that when one "captures the flag" so-to-speak by finding something interesting, we can pilot all the rest to swarm over there and claim credit.

    1. Helena Handcart

      "I'd still be much happier if we were just sending a thousand tiny robots there, and just driving them all away from a central spot. We'd get a lot more area covered, a lot more pretty pictures, find a lot more odd things that deserve closer attention and a failure won't mean failure of the mission."

      So once your Martian microbot army has wandered all over the place taking pictures, how exactly are they meant to pay attention to all the odd things they find? They'd need to take samples. Oh wait, your microbots aren't equipped with sampling devices. Fit them with sampling devices you say? What form would they take, I wonder? Drills and chemical analysis units, of course! Wait, hold on a sec...

      So I'm very interested in hearing what you think you might find by just photographing the planet (which has already been done from orbit of course). The presence of water increases the probability that life has or may exist, which will open up all sorts of philosophical and theological debates, yet alone our understanding of how life works. It also will tell us lots about the early solar system, which in turn will help predict what to find in other solar systems.

      Have you ever seen Robot Wars (or similar)? You know the robots that have spikey-hammer-arms? Yes, they're always shit aren't they, barely scratching some ali plate while throwing the attacking robot around and about thanks to Newton. This is (one reason) why they're using drills and not hammers on Curiosity. Merely cracking it open will give you what appears to be homogenous material for the most part, so you could learn very little from it. The drilling isn't used to see what's on the other side, it's to get right down and taste the composition of the rock which will tell you a shit-load about that rock all all it's nearby friends.

      Essentially Lee, you need to get your head out of your arse and discover what _is_ being found, not what you think ought to be.

      1. Frumious Bandersnatch

        re: swarms of microbots

        Interestingly, I read an article a while back about the US military working on building microbots that could be scattered over a battlefield to be used for gathering images and sussing the lay of the land. The software and radios that they had were capable of self-configuring into an ad-hoc mesh network, so that part of it should be easy to sort out, even if a significant fraction of the machines don't survive the landing or fail in some other way.

        As Helena points out, though, these things aren't really of any use as roving devices. There's a limit to how small you can make remotely-controlled bots while still giving them useful locomotion and other more practical sensors and actuated abilities.

        Still, I think the microbot idea could still be pretty useful for future missions as a means of getting an initial idea of local terrain and even provide telemetry data for later, more fully-featured rover landings. The thought of sending an Internet to Mars is pretty cool too, especially if it can self-organise and do a kind of terrain "interferometry" (a fancy word for building a map from multiple viewpoints) locally instead of having to pipe everything back to Earth first. Think about it... Martian Internet! What's not to like about that?

  13. DJO Silver badge

    the first time that any robot has penetrated the Martian surface.

    Dunno about that, Beagle probably penetrated the Martian surface by more than 64mm.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      and didn't a viking try a spot of digging with its shovel?

    2. AndrueC Silver badge

      Or the Nasa/Canadian probe. You can imagine the Martians watching it.

      "Oh noes! Here come those imperialist Earthlings again"

      "Oh look. Apparently they've gone metric. You can tell by the shape of the crater"


  14. Frumious Bandersnatch

    "the unpredictable rocks on Mars"

    I was a bit confused by this at first until I realised "unpredictable" was used in the sense of "No one could have predicted, in the first years of the twenty-first century, ..." Hooray for word-sense disambiguation!

    1. Jon Double Nice

      Re: "the unpredictable rocks on Mars"

      I thought it meant that Barry Unpredictable was holding a reunion gig there....

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Truly a proud day for America.....

    As a side benefit, now that the hole is drilled we can place the Stars and Stripes!! (Or at least put in the green, tee and 19th hole...)

  16. Mari

    Patchwork project

    Let's make a patchwork with all these useless planets

  17. Stratman

    What's the betting

    the analysis shows the rock is made of the same stuff as the drill bit ;)

  18. Philip Lewis

    Pluto ...

    I got all the way to the end of the comments, and not one mention of penetrating Pluto. I am, I must say, disappointed.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Pluto ...

      I don't get it?

  19. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Alan Shepard...

    ...hit the ball back in 1971 on the moon... NASA have finally calculated where the ball will land and wanted to guarantee a hole in one for historical reasons.

  20. Euripides Pants


    Just boring

    Mine's the one with the brace and bit in the pocket....

  21. P. Lee
    Black Helicopters

    Am I the only one...

    who expects Mars to careen around while deflating?

    (<- or pop)

    1. Michael Dunn

      Re: Am I the only one...

      Yes, fram that photo it looks as though Mars is hollow!

  22. Ed_UK
    Thumb Up

    Geology Rocks!

    Just that.

  23. bearded bear can
    Black Helicopters

    I knew it!

    There's oil there. Let's export democracy to the poor martians! Send in the marines!

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