Is it possible to automate carving of rocks on the moon?

Was it possible in 1969 for Armstrong and Aldrin to carve rocks on the moon?

Is it possible for the Pragyan rover as part of Chandrayaan 3 mission to carve rocks on the moon?

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    $\begingroup$ Carve for what purpose? Maybe carve isn't the right word? $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Oct 24, 2023 at 10:56
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    $\begingroup$ This needs an edit for focus, is the question about the hardness of rocks and using them to make structures with dedicated machines or about making lunar graffiti by hand or random rover? Generally the idea on Stack Exchange is to have one question per post, and this post has three sentences, all ending with question marks and seemingly unrelated. $\endgroup$ Oct 24, 2023 at 10:57
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    $\begingroup$ What carving you want to achieve? You may want to add some more details. $\endgroup$ Oct 24, 2023 at 12:53

1 Answer 1


Cutting open rock samples in situ for analysis has not been done so far on the Moon or Mars by either astronauts or rovers. Moon rocks collected by Apollo astronauts were cut open for analysis once back on Earth. And while no Mars rocks have been directly retrieved so far, meteorites that originated on Mars have been cut open for analysis.

However some Mars rovers have partially cut into rocks for analysis. The Spirit and Opportunity rovers used a Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT) which had a grinding wheel that removed the weathered rock surface, exposing fresh rock underneath.

Rock abrasion tool
Rock Abrasion Tool (NASA)

The Curiosity and Perseverance rovers can also grind into rocks.

Abrasion patch
Perseverance abrasion patch at Jezero Crater (NASA)

The Curiosity and Perseverance rovers also have the ChemCam instrument (SuperCam on Perseverance) which blasts rock surfaces with lasers and then analyzes the burnt surfaces to help determine chemical composition.

As pointed out by Jon Custer the Apollo astronauts used geological hammers, which were used to do things like hammer in core samples, and they were also used to chip rocks from boulders for sample retrieval.

Apollo 11,12 style lightweight hammer (National Air and Space Museum)

Apollo 14,15,16, 17 style hammer (National Air and Space Museum)

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    $\begingroup$ The Apollo astronauts used geology hammers to acquire samples. See history.nasa.gov/alsj/a17/a17.hammer.html amongst other resources. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Oct 24, 2023 at 15:31
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    $\begingroup$ @JonCuster - that's a great point and I have added it to my answer. $\endgroup$ Oct 24, 2023 at 18:29

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