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Following is a summary of current science news briefs.
NASA rover drills into its first Martian rock
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - The Mars rover Curiosity drilled into the Martian surface for the first time as part of an effort to learn if the planet most like Earth in the solar system ever had conditions to support microbial life, NASA said on Saturday. Pictures beamed back to Earth on Saturday showed a hole about 0.63 inches wide and 2.5 inches deep in a patch of fine-grained sedimentary bedrock that appears to have been in contact with water.
NASA's robotic rover Curiosity drills into Martian rock
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - For the first time, NASA's rover Curiosity used its on-board drill to collect a sample of Martian bedrock that might offer evidence of a long-gone wet environment, the U.S. space agency reported on Saturday. Drilling down 2.5 inches into a patch of sedimentary bedrock, Curiosity collected the rock powder left by the drill and will analyze it using its own laboratory instruments, NASA said in a statement. This is the first time a robot has drilled to collect a Martian sample.
Space shuttle Columbia's second life - as a cautionary tale
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - Space shuttle Columbia's flying days came to an abrupt and tragic end on February 1, 2003, when a broken wing gave way, dooming the seven astronauts aboard. Although Columbia now lies in pieces, its mission is not over.
Rocket blasts off with new NASA communications satellite
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - An unmanned Atlas 5 rocket blasted off on Wednesday to put the first of a new generation of NASA communications satellites into orbit, where it will support the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope and other spacecraft. The 191-foot (58-metre) rocket lifted off at 8:48 p.m. (0148 GMT Thursday), the first of 13 planned launches in 2013 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station just south of NASA's Kennedy Space Center.