The Mars rover Curiosity, whose Israel-made cryogenic cooler preserves on-board detectors, has dug into rock and is set to try drilling one inch deep.
An arm-mounted drill will try to rotate into Martian rock after having tapped not over the weekend, delighting geologists as the mission tries to provide information that might indicate that life once upon a time could have existed on the planet.
Israel’s part in the mission is the cooler that preserves detectors on Curiosity. Kibbutz Ein Harod, located west of Beit Shean in the Upper Jordan Valley, sold the high-tech cooler in 2005 to an American company that said it was for a research project on Mars.
After Curiosity landed on Mars last year, the kibbutz company called the buyer to find out that it was their own cooler that had landed on the planet, giving Israel a representation on Mars.
The on-board detector must be kept at minus 279 Fahrenheit, and the kibbutz’s Ricor Cryogenic official Yoav Tzur said after Curiosity landed, “Without our cooler, it would be impossible to determine the type of materials examined on Mars.”