Roughly 35 centimeter standoff Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo of the Glen Etive 1 target after brushing and the preload test. Photo produced on July 31, 2019, Sol 2482.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2485 duties.

“We are go for drilling at Glen Etive 1,” reports Lucy Thompson, a planetary geologist at University of New Brunswick.

Curiosity MAHLI photo produced on Sol 2484, August 2, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Scientists have received the results of the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) compositional analysis of the prospective drill target, as well as the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) imaging of the area both before and after a preload test.

Curiosity MAHLI photo produced on Sol 2484, August 2, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Force of drilling

“The preload test is exactly what it sounds like; exerting a load onto the surface bedrock to check that it can withstand the force of drilling,” Thompson explains. “The engineers and science team assessed the results of these analyses and concluded that it is safe to drill the Glen Etive target. Therefore, the weekend plan is dominated by the drill activity, which will take place on the second sol of the plan.”

Curiosity Navcam Left B photo acquired on Sol 2483, August 1, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The robot managed to fit in some environmental science and a Mastcam 360°mosaic of its surrounding terrain on the first sol of the plan to provide context for our drill site, Thompson notes, “prior to the rover going to sleep in order to recharge itself for the power intensive drilling.”

Curiosity Rear Hazcam Left B photo taken on Sol 2484, August 2, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


The environmental observations include a ChemCam passive sky observation, a rear Hazcam dust devil movie, a Mastcam crater rim extinction and basic tau pointed towards the sun.

“We filled a post-drill science block with geological observations. These include observations of what will hopefully be a new drill hole and associated tailings on Mars, with ChemCam passive spectroscopy and remote microscopic imaging as well as Mastcam multispectral imaging,” Thompson reports.

Curiosity’s ChemCam will also continue to investigate the variation in chemistry of the bedrock in the vicinity of the drill target, firing its laser at the “Clarkly Hill” target. Mastcam will document the ChemCam target.

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo acquired on Sol 2484, August 2, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Environmental monitoring

Curiosity is slated to wake up and carry out an early morning science block with some more environmental monitoring including a Mastcam full tau pointed towards the sun, a Navcam zenith movie, suprahorizon movie, line of sight image and 360°sky survey.

Standard background Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD), Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) and Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) passive measurements are also planned.

Curiosity Mastcam Right photo of dust removal brush taken on Sol 2483, August 1, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 22nd drill hole

“Everyone on the team will be eagerly awaiting the first downlinked data after the drill activity, to see if we have our 22nd drill hole on Mars destined for Curiosity’s analytical lab,” Thompson points out.

If successful, next week should see drop off of sample to the robot’s Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin), Thompson concludes, and the preliminary mineralogical results, which Mars researchers can compare with previous drill holes within Glen Torridon and the Murray formation.


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