The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity broke its own record for the deepest hole ground into a rock on another planet with a 7.2-millimeter (about 0.28-inch) grind on the rock "Pilbara," on the rover's 86th sol on Mars.
This image is a panoramic camera picture highlighting the hole left by the rock abrasion tool after two hours and 16 minutes of grinding. The hole is 7.2 millimeters (about 0.28 inches) deep and 4.5 centimeters (about 1.8 inches) in diameter. The tool swept the hole clean after grinding, leaving the ring of cuttings around the hole. When this image was taken, the abraded area was mostly shaded by the rover, with the sun peeking through the joint that connects the front solar panel to the body of the rover.
The team has developed a new approach to commanding the rock abrasion tool that allows for more aggressive grinding parameters. The tool is now programmed, in the event of a stall, to retreat from its target and attempt to grind again. This allows the grinder to essentially reset itself instead of aborting its sequence altogether and waiting for further commands from rover planners.