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While Curiosity executed the first rock drilling on Mars, the method has been used on other celestial bodies.

The Apollo astronauts wielded a handheld, battery-powered drill into rocks and delivered pieces to Earth. The Soviets deployed spacecraft that drilled into the lunar surface to collect rocks for Earth return and also used robotic drills on missions to Venus.

Once Curiosity finishes its rock analysis, the team’s focus will turn to starting the drive to a mountain, expected to take nine months with stops. It is there that scientists hope Curiosity would uncover signs of organic molecules, the chemical building blocks of life.


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