55bf5cef8794be44895d2d09f0a65ef0As with the previous Cumberland drilling, the powdered rock material is gray rather than reddish like the surface of the bedrock. Photo credit NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

After successfully coming out of solar conjunction in April, the rover returned to its scientific mission by drilling a piece of bedrock called Cumberland, located only 9 feet west of John Klein, the first drill site.

The drill hole is about 0.6 inches in diameter and 2.6 inches deep, again similar to the first drill hole.

Though the powdered rock drillings at Cumberland resemble the previous drilling at John Klein, the surface of Cumberland has many more odd nodules (see above) resembling blisters or bubbles on its surface than John Klein has.

The clay materials from John Klein, along with bedrock slabs that had once been drenched in water, and calcium-rich veins and pits in the rocks suggest that there had been a great deal of water in this area inside Gale crater, water that included rivers or streams and one or more lakes.

Scientists are hopeful that the Cumberland drillings will repeat John Klein’s results to add more evidence showing that eons ago, habitable conditions existed in this area.

They’ll be examining and comparing the samples over the next weeks to see how similar or different the two drillings are.

Source:   examiner, May 21, 2013 and February 25, 2013

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