NASA Mars Curiosity Rover Drills Into Second Rock

NASA's Curiosity rover is back in business.

The agency announced on Monday May 20 that Curiosity had drilled a hole in a second Martian rock, named "Cumberland," and will transfer powder from the rock to its onboard laboratories for further analysis. The drill follows a monthlong hiatus for Curiosity.

Back in February, the rover drilled into a nearby rock called "John Klein." The drill showed that Mars was once probably able to support microbial life. With its new drill sample, NASA hopes to confirm these findings.

"The science team expects to use analysis of material from Cumberland to check findings from John Klein," NASA officials wrote in a mission update on Monday.

Curiosity is on a two-year mission to examine the surface of Mars and its habitability. It has spent most of its time in the area near where it landed in late August on Mars' Gale Crater.

Curiosity's setback involved one of its main computers crashing. At that time the backup computer took over while NASA applied some software patches to get the rover up and running again.

NASA has high hopes for the Curiosity rover, and is sending it to the base of Mount Sharp, a mysterious mountain rising 3.4 miles high in the center of the Gale Crater. The foothills of the mountain indicate past exposure to water. According to the agency, Curiosity will likely head over to Mount Sharp after it finishes with Cumberland and some other matters in the area. Since Curiosity only gets 0.09 mph, the journey to Mount Sharp will likely take months.

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