Mishandling On Earth Could Impede Mars Rover
By Frank Morring, Jr., Guy Norris
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
“Any evidence suggesting the presence of Special Regions or flowing liquid at the actual MSL landing site shall be communicated to the planetary protection officer immediately, and physical contact by the lander with such features shall be entirely avoided,” Conley stated in the document authorizing the landing.
Preparations for the start of actual drilling will take another few weeks. “Drilling is the most significant engineering task we've done since landing,” Cook says. “We will interact with unknown surface terrain and it is the first time we've ever done that.”
Named John Klein to honor a deceased deputy project manager on the rover, the drilling site includes veins and concretions that are geological indicators of precipitation of minerals from water.
“This is why we selected it for drilling,” says Grotzinger, the project scientist. “Water went through these rocks and precipitated chemicals. It is the first time in this mission we've seen something that is not just an aqueous environment but also one which results in precipitation of minerals.”