Over the weekend, NASA’s Curiosity rover successfully drilled into the surface of Mars and collected its first sample from the interior of a rock. With this incredible interactive panorama, you can stand right beside the rover and see both its amazing environment and the fruits of its labor (go into full screen for best results).
Late on Feb. 8, Curiosity drilled a 6.4-cm-deep hole into a rock nicknamed John Klein on the surface of Mars. The area the rover is in appears to have been repeatedly flooded with water in the past and the drilling operation will allow scientists to uncover the complex aqueous history of the place. Curiosity has excavated a tiny sample from inside the rock and will analyze the powder with its suite of instruments. This is the most complex operation the rover has yet performed on Mars.
The interactive panorama above comes from photographer Andrew Bodrov of Estonia, whose previous Curiosity panorama showed the rover just after it landed in August. The self-portrait was stitched together from 66 shots taken with the rover’s MAHLI camera, which sits on the end of Curiosity’s arm and is not visible in the image, on Feb. 3. The full panorama incorporates about 130 photographs from the rover’s MastCams taken on later days and stretches about 30,000 pixels wide. On the Martian surface just in front of the rover, you can see the full drilling hole as well as the “mini-drill” test from last week.