No official word as yet, but new downlink photos indicate that Curiosity did sink its drill into the complexly-layered “Duluth” block.

The robot is now performing Sol 2059 duties.

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo taken on Sol 2057, May 20, 2018
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Earlier, Michelle Minitti, a planetary geologist at Framework in  Silver Spring, Maryland reported the rover was also slated to gather more data from the “Blunts Point” member rocks in front of and around the robot.

The Duluth target was neatly cleared of dust by the Dust Removal Tool prior to drilling.

The robot’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) in passive mode and Mastcam’s multispectral mode was slated to gauge what iron mineralogy was hiding beneath the target’s thin veneer of dust. ChemCam was to shoot three targets to learn more about the chemistry of the layers within the Duluth block and similar blocks around it.

Delicate layer

“Within the Duluth block, ChemCam will target “Chisholm,” the delicate layer curling up above the top of the Duluth block, and ‘Aitkin,’ another layer jutting out from the side of the block,” Minitti explains. “The ‘Buhl’ target sits off to the rover’s right and represents another example of the Blunts Point member for ChemCam to sample.”

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 2057, May 20, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Also on tap was use of Curiosity’s Mastcam to image two large blocks dubbed “Kabetogama” to learn more about the intricate layering of the Blunts Point member. Prior to drilling, Curiosity was to give the sky some attention. Images and movies acquired in the early morning will measure dust and look for clouds, while images and movies at mid-day will measure dust and look for dust devils.

Curiosity Navcam Right B image acquired on Sol 2057, May 20, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Imaging the hole

Before drilling, Curiosity’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) was to capture “before” images of the drill target, and MAHLI and Mastcam will image the areas where different portions of a drill sample could be dumped both before and after sample delivery to the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite and the Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin).

Once the drill hole was created, ChemCam was to image the hole with its Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) to set up for shooting the laser down the drill hole in subsequent sols, and Mastcam and Navcam will image the post-drill workspace.

Work around the problem

“The engineers have worked incredibly hard to invent a new way to use the drill,” Minitti notes. “Their ability to work around the problem from afar and give us another chance at drilling is very much in the spirit of NASA’s engineers designing fixes to the systems of Apollo 13 as the spacecraft hurtled, crippled, to the Moon.”

Curiosity Navcam Right B image acquired on Sol 2057, May 20, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

While the stakes are different for Curiosity, “the ingenuity is the same,” Minitti suggests. “The science team has been wondering what minerals might be responsible for the layers, veins and nodules in the Blunts Point rocks. A successful drill will mark the first step in answering that mystery.”

Leave a Reply