Curiosity Navcam Left A image taken on Sol 2218, November 2, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now wrapping up Sol 2218 tasks.

Curiosity Navcam Left A image taken on Sol 2218, November 2, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Sol 2217 marked a return to contact science activities after a Curiosity memory anomaly complicated rover activities back on Sol 2172.

Poised to measure

Reports Lucy Thompson, a planetary geologist from the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, when the anomaly occurred, the robot’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) was poised to measure the composition of the freshly exposed “Inverness” bedrock surface.

This was to occur after an unsuccessful drill attempt on Sol 2170 to compare with the previously brushed surface and other fresh rock surfaces examined by APXS on the Vera Rubin Ridge.

Interesting target

A recently scripted plan is to recover this measurement, with accompanying Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) imaging, as well as to get chemical and textural data (with APXS and MAHLI) on another interesting target in the workspace, “Grange.”

Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) image produced on Sol 2218, November 2, 2018. MAHLI is located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Thompson adds that “Grange appears to be an area of bright calcium sulfate (commonly observed as veins cross-cutting bedrock encountered throughout the mission), but with small, dark inclusions that might have an interesting composition.”

MAHLI image produced on Sol 2217, November 1, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Multispectral observations

Also planned is a Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) investigation of a bedrock target tagged “Clune” with accompanying Mastcam imaging, as well as Mastcam imaging of an interesting area of rougher textured rock “Ayr” and multispectral Mastcam observations of the “Inverness” area.

The plan is rounded out with some environmental monitoring activities including a passive measurement using the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) and use of the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS).

Curioisty ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo taken on Sol 2218, November 2, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

New drive, drilling scheduled

“I am looking forward to getting the data down from these observations and comparing the chemistry and textures of these rocks with other rock targets encountered on the Vera Rubin Ridge,” Thompson explains. “The chemistry and textures can provide clues to the conditions the sediments were deposited in as well as subsequent events such as diagenesis (as the sediment is buried, compacted and cemented and turned into a rock), and later alteration.”

Looking ahead, Thompson points out that Curiosity is hoping to soon drive away from the current site towards an area, “Lake Orcadie,” “where we will attempt another drill into one of these interesting bright grey areas identified from orbit on the Vera Rubin Ridge.”

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