NASA's Mars rover Curiosity will perform its second-ever drilling operation soon, boring into a knobby section of bedrock dubbed "Cumberland," space agency officials announced Thursday (May 9).
Cumberland lies just 9 feet (2.75 meters) west of the rock called "John Klein," where Curiosity drilled a 2.5-inch-deep (6.4 centimeters) hole back in February. The rover's analysis of John Klein samples allowed mission scientists to conclude that Mars was capable of supporting microbial life billions of years ago.
The main purpose of drilling a second hole nearby is to confirm this big discovery, researchers said.
This patch of bedrock, called "Cumberland," has been selected as the second target for drilling by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity. Image released May 9, 2013.