NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'

Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet

The Mars Curiosity rover has drilled an opening that looks suspiciously like the hole towards which Tiger Woods and his fellow golfers usually aim their balls.

It is the first hole dug by the Rover during its quest to find water on the Red Planet.

On its journey across the mountain, the Rover also spotted what appears to be a ball and something resembling a set of traffic lights, to all appearances looking like the NASA tech team were planning a game of mini-golf.

Last week, NASA's remote controlled minion drilled a 2.6-inch hole into a basal outcrop on Mount Sharp, which it swallowed so that further tests could be conducted.

"This drilling target is at the lowest part of the base layer of the mountain, and from here we plan to examine the higher, younger layers exposed in the nearby hills," said Curiosity Deputy Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). "This first look at rocks we believe to underlie Mount Sharp is exciting because it will begin to form a picture of the environment at the time the mountain formed, and what led to its growth."

The Rover is more turtle than hare, having driven just 5 miles from its landing site in about 15 months. On the way, it analysed an area thought to be a dried up lake and found it had an environment that might have supported microbes.

On 19 September, it arrived at an area dubbed "Pahrump Hills" and began drilling.

"We're putting on the brakes to study this amazing mountain," said Curiosity deputy project manager Jennifer Trosper of JPL. "Curiosity flew hundreds of millions of miles to do this." ®

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