Laser strikes within Duluth drill hole. Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo acquired on Sol 2075, June 8, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now in Sol 2076, ready to tackle a weekend of duties.

Reports Rachel Kronyak, a planetary geologist from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, the weekend plan has two main priorities: perform another analysis with the robot’s Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin) on the Duluth drill sample and continue a campaign of dust storm monitoring.

Dust storm

There’s a dust storm developing on the other side of Mars. In response, the environmental group has planned a suite of activities to monitor how the amount of dust in the atmosphere will change over the next few sols.

Dust storm watching. Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 2070, June 3, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

“To measure dust in the atmosphere, we’ll first point Mastcam towards the sun and take a tau measurement, which lets us determine the optical depth vertically. Then we’ll take a Mastcam image of the crater rim to determine line-of-sight extinction, which is directly related to the amount of dust present,” Kronyak explains. In addition, a few movies using Curiosity’s Navcam are to be taken, to assess clouds, wind direction, and to look for dust devils.

Duluth drill hole

“Overnight on Sol 2076-2077, we’ll perform our third CheMin analysis on the Duluth drill sample. Our geology theme group planned some additional activities later in the day on Sol 2077 to support our assessment of the Duluth drill hole,” Kronyak adds, including a Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) Laser-induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) raster of the drill hole and several change detection Mastcam images.

“Whenever Curiosity is parked at a location for more than a few sols, we commonly take a series of these change detection images to systematically look for material that has moved. We’ll also do a LIBS observation on the nearby rock target “Isanti” and perform a routine check-up on the Mastcam instrument with a sky column observation,” Kronyak concludes.

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