Wyo-Ben Plays Role In Mars Discovery

May 2013, Vol. 68 No. 5
This rectangular version of a self-portrait of NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity combines dozens of exposures (Feb. 3, 2013).

Because bentonite absorbs water rapidly, Beegle had to find a way to dry it out enough to drill into it under low pressure, very dry conditions.

After several failed attempts to dry out the bentonite via heat, molding into concrete and finally freeze-drying where the sample took up to six weeks to dry out, the NASA scientist was able to drill two holes into the bentonite before the sample crumbled.