Mars rover readies first rock drilling

Updated 17 January 2013
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Mars rover readies first rock drilling

WASHINGTON: The Mars rover Curiosity will soon begin to drill into the Red Planet for the first time, mission officials said Tuesday ahead of the highly anticipated endeavor.
Scientists behind the $ 2.5 billion mission also explained the nature of the small “Martian flower,” which had caused a lot of buzz online because it was strikingly different from the surrounding rock.
Aileen Yingst, of the Planetary Science Institute, said that what could have passed as a flower was in fact a relatively large mineral grain or pebble.
“All of these are sedimentary rocks, telling us Mars had environments actively depositing material here,” Yingst said. “The different grain sizes tell us about different transport conditions.”
Curiosity is traveling toward a flat rock with pale veins that scientists hope will provide clues about any water that might have existed on Mars. “Drilling into a rock to collect a sample will be this mission’s most challenging activity since the (Aug. 6) landing. It has never been done on Mars,” said Richard Cook of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “The drill hardware interacts energetically with Martian material we don’t control. We won’t be surprised if some steps in the process don’t go exactly as planned the first time through.”
Curiosity will collect samples from inside the “John Klein” rock — named in honor of a former Mars Science Laboratory deputy project manager who died in 2012 — and analyze them to determine their chemical and mineral composition.
The rover’s cameras have shown several unexpected features on the rock, including veins, nodules, cross-bedded layering, a lustrous pebble embedded in sandstone and possibly some holes in the ground.
The mission, set to last at least two years, aims to study the Martian environment to prepare for a possible future manned mission.


US President Barack Obama has vowed to send humans to the planet by 2030.


Ancient skeleton of child found in ruins of Pompeii's bath

Updated 25 April 2018
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Ancient skeleton of child found in ruins of Pompeii's bath

ROME (AP) — Work at ancient thermal baths in Pompeii's ruins has revealed the skeleton of a crouching child who perished in Mount Vesuvius' eruption in AD 79.
Pompeii's director Massimo Osanna said in a statement Wednesday that the skeleton, believed to be of a 7- or 8-year-old child, was found during work in February to shore up the main ancient baths in the sprawling archaeological site. The skeleton was removed on Tuesday from the baths' area for study, including DNA testing to determine the sex.
Osanna said it appears the skeleton might have been first spotted during a 19th-century excavation of the area, since the leg bones were orderly placed near the pelvis, but, for reasons unclear, wasn't removed by those earlier archaeologists.
Experts think deadly volcanic gases killed the child.