FEB 28, 2018 06:27 PM PST
NASA's Curiosity Rover Uses a Brand-New Drilling Technique
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NASA's Curiosity rover sports a unique drilling tool that lets the SUV-sized Mars exploration vehicle sample the red planet's rock and soil for scientific research. But there's just one problem: it hasn't been working correctly lately.

Curiosity's drilling mechanism includes two stabilizers on either side of the drill bit that should grip the drilling surface. Unfortunately, a problem with the drilling system causes these grips to get in the way, so NASA had to improvise.

The space agency came up with an entirely new drilling method that doesn't use the stabilizers at all. Instead, NASA retracts the stabilizers and remotely controls the rover's drilling pressure with the help of a pressure sensor built into the drilling arm itself.

NASA engineers used this new drilling method once already, and it yielded spectacular results. That said, you can bet NASA plans to use it again in the future for additional sampling of the Martian surface.

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