Curiosity Mastcam Left image acquired on Sol 2132, August 5, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Now in Sol 2134 Third time’s a charm? That’s the question posed by Rachel Kronyak, a planetary geologist at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Curiosity Mastcam Left image acquired on Sol 2132, August 5, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

“After a weekend full of contact science, remote science, and driving, Curiosity arrived at her next drill site within the Pettegrove Point member,” Kronyak adds. “Our previous two drilling attempts within the Pettegrove Point member haven’t been as successful as we’d have hoped; the rocks in this area are much harder than we’re used to – all the more reason to acquire and analyze a drill sample. We’re hopeful that our third drilling attempt does the trick!”

Drilling campaign

Curiosity planning for two sols was to kick off the robot’s drilling campaign.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo acquired on Sol 2132, August 5, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

On Sol 2134, the schedule calls for performing triage contact science observations to document the new drill target which has been named “Stoer.”

First the robot’s Dust Removal Tool (DRT) is to brush away some of the surface dust over Stoer before imaging it with the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera and performing chemical analyses with the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) instrument.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo acquired on Sol 2132, August 5, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Stable rock?

“To prepare for drilling, we’ll then perform a ‘pre-load’ test, where we position the drill in contact with the Stoer rock surface and press down,” Kronyak points out. “This allows our mission engineers to verify that the rock is stable enough for drilling.”

Later in the afternoon, researchers will assess the Stoer area with a Mastcam mosaic and perform environmental monitoring observations with Navcam. They will then place the APXS instrument on Stoer overnight to get a long chemical observation.

Environmental observations

On Sol 2135, the script calls for a suite of remote science observations, including Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN), and Navcam atmospheric observations.

After Curiosity’s robotic arm is moved out of the way, Kronyak explains that the rover is to perform two Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) analyses: one on Stoer, the other on the target “Strontian,” a nearby darker gray bedrock target.

“We’ll document both targets with Mastcam images and use additional camera filters to analyze Stoer; we call this observation a “multispectral” observation,” Kronyak notes.

That Sol ends with a Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite electrical baseline test (EBT), which is periodically performed to monitor the SAM instrument’s electrical functions.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

New road map

Meanwhile, a new Curiosity traverse map through Sol 2132 has been issued.

The map shows the route driven by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity through the 2132 Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission on Mars (August 06, 2018).

Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up. The scale bar is 1 kilometer (~0.62 mile).

From Sol 2128 to Sol 2132, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 12.50 feet (3.81 meters), bringing the rover’s total odometry for the mission to 12.18 miles (19.60 kilometers).

The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

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