The first drilling sample of Mars rock powder has been transferred from the Curiosity Rover’s drill to its scoop, ready to be analyzed for extraterrestrial life. That’s a huge accomplishment considering the amount of steps required, and the fact that the rover is millions of miles away from Earth. Yet NASA’s SUV-sized craft is still going about its business.
The sample itself doesn’t look like much—powdered rock, big whoop—but it’s a giant step toward better understanding the Red Planet, and whether or not life exists outside of our little bubble. Curiosity has diligently worked on Mars’s surface since landing in August, functioning better than some humans I know.
NASA says more steps are still needed before a full analysis can go forward: “the sample will be sieved, and portions of it delivered to the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument and the Sample Analysis at Mars.”
The picture, by the way, was obtained by Curiosity’s Mast Camera on Feb. 20, NASA said. It looks better than some smartphone pictures.