The answer to this question has a link with this image, an animated GIF showing before and after views of a drill site on Mars.

enter image description here

How did drilling at the site manage to disturb such a large area and cause such damage? A quasi rectangular region, several hole diameters around the hole, has been cracked and raised above its previous position.

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    $\begingroup$ For scale. the hole has a diameter of 1.6 cm, so the whole sheet is about 15 cm wide. $\endgroup$ Jan 23, 2020 at 8:13
  • $\begingroup$ The crack existed long before drilling, you see it in the GIF. The area was only lifted during the drill. The damage was there before the drill. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Jan 23, 2020 at 15:21

1 Answer 1


Emily Lakdawalla gives an explanation in the Curiosity Update, Sols 2313-2387: Two New Drill Holes Despite Memory Problems on the website of The Planetary Society.

The drilling was incredibly easy going; the rover needed to use no percussion, only drill rotation. It's possible that the easy going resulted from the rock being thinner than the length of the drill bit. When Curiosity pulled the drill out, the drilled rock lifted up. Unsure about the quality of the drilled sample, the Curiosity team decided after CheMin analysis to dump the Aberlady sample and try again nearby, at Kilmarie, to acquire a better sample for SAM.

So what at first sight might have looked like a block of rock, appeared to be a thin, flat layer of solid material, and when the drill was pulled out, it pulled up that light, flat layer by friction.

  • $\begingroup$ So they also collected bits from the other side of the rock? $\endgroup$
    – BlueCoder
    Jan 24, 2020 at 10:18
  • $\begingroup$ @BlueCoder Are you confused be the Two new drill holes ? I will add another sentence that tells another drill hole was selected. $\endgroup$
    – Cornelis
    Jan 24, 2020 at 10:27
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    $\begingroup$ No, the answer is perfectly clear. I was actually asking you a secondary question :) From your answer, I get that the drill probably went through the whole rock (since it was just a thin layer): so I was wondering if the sample they collected included both pieces of the rock and pieces of what is below that rock. But there is no need to actually change the answer, I should just make a separate question. $\endgroup$
    – BlueCoder
    Jan 24, 2020 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Cornelisinspace: Nicely explained, thanks. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Jan 24, 2020 at 17:31

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