Spirit drills first hole in Mars rock

The US Mars rover Spirit drilled a tiny, circular hole in a rock, a first in the history of exploring the planet, the US space agency NASA said on Saturday.

    Spirit, which was paralysed for several days, is now operational

    The hole, 2.65 millimetres (0.1 inch) deep and 45.5 millimetres (1.8 inches) in diameter, was hailed as a significant achievement by scientists working on the Mars exploration mission.

    "I didn't think that it would cut this deep. In fact, when we saw virtually a complete circle, I was thrilled beyond anything I could have ever dreamed," said Steve Gorevan, lead scientist for the rock abrasion tools on the twin US Mars rovers.

    Spirit, which was paralysed for several days due to a computer glitch, is now working normally, NASA said.

    After probing the rock, Spirit will move 250 metres towards a crater to the northeast, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said. 

    Meanwhile, Spirit's twin, Opportunity, inched towards a rocky outcrop which scientists want to study.

    The two rovers are on a three-month mission to examine Martian soil and rocks to determine whether the planet once had the ability to host life.



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