Late last month, the rover used it's newly function drill to collect rock samples for the first time in almost two years. On May 20, the rover took the first rock sample since October 2016.
"A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment", Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program at the agency's headquarters in Washington, said in 2013 following the findings. Later this week, scientists hope to have Curiosity deliver rock samples to its chemistry lab.
"This was no small feat".
"The scientific team was confident that the engineers contend - are so confident that we went back to the pattern that we missed before. The gambit paid off, and we finally have an integral sample we've not gotten", Vasavada mentioned.
The engineers managed to develop a new drilling method in which the Rover uses as the stop is only a manipulator, clamping the drill to the ground.
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After landing in the Gale Crater and exploring the area during the course of its two-year prime mission, it has been climbing and exploring the base of Mount Sharp since September 2014.
The new sample transfer technique allows Curiosity to position its drill over two small inlets on top of the rover's deck, trickling in the appropriate amount of rock powder for the onboard laboratories to do their analyses.
Both MarCO-A and B successfully completed a set of communications tests in the past couple of weeks, said John Baker, programme manager for planetary SmallSats at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the US.
According to JPL, the technique is not as simple as it sounds because the much drier conditions on Mars and the thin Martian atmosphere causes the powdered rock to fall out of the drill differently than on Earth. "We're talking about as little as half a baby aspirin worth of sample". Too much, and it might overfill the tools, clogging components or contaminating potential dimensions.
A successful test of this shipping method on May 22 led to even further improvements in the delivery procedure. In this technique, the drill is fully and permanently extended and locked in place beyond the pins. That device, called the Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA), played an important role in delivering measured portions of sample to the laboratories inside the rover.