Curiosity Navcam Left B image acquired on Sol 2107, July 11, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


Now in Sol 2108, NASA’s Curiosity rover is headed for another drill session on the Red Planet.

“After being out of commission for over a year, Curiosity’s drill is making not just a comeback, but a strong one, with imminent plans for a second drill hole within the span of 60 sols,” reports Roger Wiens, a geochemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Rapid turn-around

The rover is heading back to a place it visited on Sol 2005, looking to drill near target Stranraer.

Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B image taken on Sol 2107, July 10, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Wiens explains that Curiosity has been climbing back up Vera Rubin Ridge from drill target Duluth, which was drilled on Sol 2057 at the base of the ridge.

“If the rover succeeds with another drill target within the next few sols, it will be quite a rapid turn-around. Previous instances when drill holes were made within rapid succession include the combination of Mojave and Telegraph Peak (sols 882 and 908) at Pahrump; the trio of Lubango, Okoruso, and Oudam on Naukluft Plateau between sols 1320 and 1361; and Quela and Sebina between sols 1464 and 1495,” Wiens points out.

Curiosity Navcam Right B photo taken on Sol 2107, July 10, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Other targets

Curiosity still has about 20 feet (six meters) to go to the area around Stranraer, so a short spurt of a drive is on tap.

The robot’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) are set to analyze targets “Fort Francis and “Icarus Lake.”

The rover’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) are slated to analyze a dark rock named “Orr.”

Crater rim viewing

After the drive, Navcam will take images of the region in front of the rover, and the onboard computer will select a new target for ChemCam to shoot.

Mastcam will take an image for the clast survey, and will check the sky conditions with a tau measurement and a view out to the crater rim (if it shows up through the dusty air).

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo produced on Sol 2107, July 10, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity’s Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD), Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), and the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) are scheduled to get data, including a DAN Active measurement, and the rover’s Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) is set to take an image of the ground beneath the rover, Wiens concludes.

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