The NASA Mars rover Curiosity. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
Due to its success with its Mars rover Curiosity, NASA has decided to deploy a robot drill to Mars in 2016. The robot, named InSIGHT, will drill into the red planet's crust to discover more about its interior.
The Washington Post reports that the robot drill will cost $425 million and will be developed by Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, where the Mars rover was developed and assembled.
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Unlike Curiosity, InSIGHT will be stationed in one place on the planet and will be assisted by a German-built drill and a French-built seismometer. Its role is to drill 30 feet into Mars' crust to find clues on how Mars formed.
The decision to pursue the InSIGHT project falls on the heels of Curiosity's successful landing and exploration of the planet. It also beat two risker explorations, including one on Saturn's moon Titan and one on a comet.
On Sunday, Curiosity successfully used a rapid-fire laser to destroy a rock to determine its composition. According to the Washington Post, the laser, named "ChemCam," examined flashes of vaporized gas to analyze rock composition.
The rock, which was later named "Coronation" by scientists, was hit by 30 laser pulses in 10 seconds reports the Christian Science Monitor. The laser is just one of 10 instruments included in Curiosity.