Curiosity Mast Camera Right image taken on Sol 2910, October 13, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA Curiosity Mars rover is now carrying out Sol 2912 duties.

Curiosity Mast Camera Right image taken on Sol 2910, October 13, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity has been hard at work, taming the “Groken,” the 29th successful drill hole on Mars, reports Catherine O’Connell-Cooper, a planetary geologist at the University of New Brunswick.

A recent plan saw the Mars science team transition into the analysis part of a drill campaign sol path.

“We have practiced this quite a bit now, having drilled six holes in the past 9 months, three of which are on the bedrock slab in front of us,” O’Connell-Cooper says.

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Right B image taken on Sol 2911, October 14, 2020. Photo shows three successful drill holes on the same bedrock slab. “Groken” is the furthest away, at the top of the slab. “Mary Anning 3” is closest to the front of the image, and “Mary Anning 1” is in the center of the bedrock. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The sample will be delivered to the robot’s Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin) to determine the mineralogical composition of the specimen.

Close approach

O’Connell-Cooper underscores the close approach between Earth and Mars that occurred on Oct. 6th. Mars was a mere 38.6 million miles from Earth (closest approach in 15 years, not to be beaten until 2052) and full opposition on Oct. 13th. “Mars and Curiosity feel almost close enough to touch!”

While the Curiosity rover is currently closer to home than at any point in her mission, “we will still have to wait until the weekend for the results,” O’Connell-Cooper adds. “As we wait, ChemCam [Chemistry and Camera] is documenting the drill hole, and some additional bedrock targets here, along a fracture in the drilled bedrock (“Fladdabister” and “Glendaruel”) and on a neighboring bedrock slab (“Melby Fish Beds”).”

The rover’s Mastcam will document the ChemCam targets, in addition to taking images of the CheMin inlet before and after the sample is dropped off, and a tau (atmospheric opacity) measurement for the environmental group, O’Connell-Cooper concludes.

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