Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B photo taken on Sol 2167, September 10, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2168 tasks.

Reports Sean Czarnecki, a planetary geologist at Arizona State University in Tempe: “Curiosity’s last plan didn’t quite get our intrepid rover close enough to our next potential drill location in the gray bedrock that is visually distinct on this part of Vera Rubin Ridge.”

Curiosity Mastcam Left image acquired on Sol 2166, September 9, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

This weekend’s plan was intended to be “Drill Sol 1,” but since it would require at least another short drive to drill, Czarnecki adds, “the team decided to choose another target a little further away that will provide a better science return. So the weekend plan now includes a short drive to our new drill target.”


Before the drive, the rover’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) will measure the chemistry of the targets “Great Bernera,” “Great Glen,” and “Great Todday;” Mastcam will take images of these same targets including a multispectral observation of Great Todday; and the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) will measure the chemistry of targets “Trollochy,” “Burn O Vat,” and “Portobello.”

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo produced on Sol 2166, September 9, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

“These observations are intended to document the compositional diversity of the gray and red bedrock at this location by documenting the transition from gray to red,” Czarnecki points out.

Compositional layering

In addition, the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) instrument will make a total of 60 minutes of active measurements before the drive.

“DAN active experiments emit neutrons that interact with the subsurface and then measure the time-of-flight and energy of neutrons that return to the rover. These data allow us to interpret compositional layering and abundances of water bound in minerals in the martian subsurface,” Czarnecki explains.

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo taken on Sol 2167, September 10, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Weekend science

Following Curiosity’s drive, ChemCam has two more sets of chemical measurements on Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science (AEGIS) targets. AEGIS is novel autonomy software.

APXS will measure the argon abundance in the martian atmosphere, and DAN will take another standard active measurement. Also in the plan are standard DAN passive and environmental monitoring activities with the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD), Mastcam, and Navcam instruments.

Curiosity Navcam Left B photo acquired on Sol 2167, September 10, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“It’s a weekend packed full of science,” Czarnecki concludes, “to set up our next drill campaign!”

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