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28-Nov-2017 03:56

Rover successfully drilled a small hole in the slab, about 2 cm in diameter, while inflicting as little damage as possible.The probe-mounted fiber optic camera was successfully deployed and gave us our first look behind Gantenbrink’s Door.The LED array on the probe did not provide much ambient light, so Rover was unable to examine the walls and floor of the chamber, much less the back of the blocking slab.Even the view of the opposite block was limited by the quality of the light.With the center being overly reflective and the periphery fading into darkness, details were hard to make out.

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The mission had confirmed that the 20 x 20 cm blocking slab and the final section of U-block were made of a higher quality type of limestone than the rest of the shaft, most likely the fine limestone quarried at Tura rather than the rougher local yellow limestone.What the Pyramid Rover team discovered was a small chamber formed by the Tura limestone U-block, the basal stone, the blocking slab/door, and a rough block of the local limestone on the opposite side, about 19 cm away from the “door.” But the probe camera had its limitations.It was fixed inside a rigid tube and had no tilt or pan capabilities—all it could do was look straight ahead.Larger, more structural questions presented themselves as well. Did the shaft continue on the opposite side, or come to an abrupt end against the core masonry of the pyramid? Zahi Hawass, the Secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, had some decisions to make.

Was the block inserted into the shaft like a cork, or did it sit flush against the end of the shaft like a lid? Initial planning for the next mission into the Queen’s Chamber shafts began soon after the conclusion of the Pyramid Rover Project, and at one point it seemed that a team from Singapore University had been selected as early as August, 2004. Hawass talked as if the Singaporean mission was a done deal.

The Pyramid Rover had also made a remarkable discovery in the northern shaft of the Queen’s Chamber—another door, nearly identical to the one Gantenbrink discovered, and at about the same elevation. “The manufacturing of the robot will start in October,” Hawass said, “with the university [of Singapore] footing the bill.