NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has got busy drilling the Martian surface once again, albeit rather gently this time. It is using its low-percussion-level drill for the first time. Analysis of the drilled sample has revealed unexpected ancient conditions on Mars, suggesting it did support liquid water in those times.
The drill aboard Curiosity rover has six percussion-level settings, which range nearly 20-fold in energy, from tapping gently to banging vigorously, all at 30 times per second. The drill autonomously adjusts its percussion level, based on how fast or slow it is penetrating the rock.