Curiosity’s latest drill hole, “Groken” in the nodule-laden section of rock. Nodules are the dark areas in the image.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now conducting Sol 2914 tasks.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera photo taken on Sol 2913, October 16, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity is mostly chilling out this weekend while researchers continue to investigate the latest drill hole, “Groken,” reports Ashley Stroupe, a mission operations engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The sample collected comes from a nodule-rich corner of rock.

“In the process of drilling, Curiosity broke the rock, which can sometimes happen when we are close to an edge, but still collected enough sample to perform detailed analyses,” Stroupe adds.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera photo taken on Sol 2913, October 16, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Strong signal

In a plan last week, sample was delivered to robot’s Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin) for analysis in order to determine the composition of the nodules, Stroupe explains.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera photo taken on Sol 2913, October 16, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“The preliminary results look good – we have a full cell and a strong signal,” Stroupe notes. The top priority is to do more CheMin analysis on the sample and improve the data before deciding whether to deliver sample to the robot’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite.

This meant the rover planners had a day off before resuming the sampling campaign activities next week.

Curiosity Chemistry & Camera Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) photo acquired on Sol 2913, October 16, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Local variability

In addition to CheMin, Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) and Mastcam are also being targeted on the area around the drill hole – on “Villians,” “Vond,” and “Clibberswick” – to support the investigation into the nodules by examining local variability.

ChemCam is also taking more high resolution Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) telescope images of the “Housedon Hill” area “to help us test hypotheses and inform where we should go in the Mt. Sharp sulfate unit,” Stroupe reports.

Storm season

“As we’re now fully into the windy and dust storm season at Gale Crater, we’ve tasked Curiosity with a lot of environmental observations,” Stroupe explains.

Atmospheric observations include standard Mastcam crater rim extinction, cloud movies, zenith movies, and taus (dust opacity measurements), as well as Navcam line of sight imaging and a suprahorizon movie.

“We’re keeping a sharp eye out for dust devils with both Navcam and Mastcam dust devil movies. Lastly, we’re looking at local changes with Mastcam deck monitoring and change detection on the ‘Upper Ollach’ trench target,” Stroupe concludes.

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