Curiosity Navcam Right B image taken on Sol 2501, August 19, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2502 duties.

The Mars machinery is headed for a conjunction, a few-week period when Mars goes behind the Sun and ground controllers stop communicating with spacecraft that are there.

Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B photo acquired on Sol 2501, August 19, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Our last planning day before conjunction will be next Friday and thinking about that fast approaching day feels very similar to thinking about getting ready to leave for vacation,” reports Abigail Fraeman, a planetary geologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“The Curiosity science team has many things we want to wrap up before conjunction,” Fraeman adds, “so we’re trying to work extra hard to do as much as we can before setting up Curiosity’s (figurative) auto-reply ‘I’m behind the sun’ email.”

Curiosity Mastcam Left image acquired on Sol 2500, August 18, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Analyses of drill sample

The recent weekend plan was all about running additional Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite analyses on the Glen Etive drill sample.

The plan called for delivery of a portion of the drill sample to SAM on lucky sol 2500, Fraeman notes, and SAM was to analyze its composition using the gas chromatograph and mass spectrometer (GC-MS) on sol 2501.

“This SAM activity is preceded by an activity to clean the GC column on sol 2499, and the combined observations use so much power, there’s not a lot left for other activities,” Fraeman explains.

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo taken on Sol 2501, August 19, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Some remote sensing

Mars researchers did manage to fit in a little bit of remote sensing, taking two Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) targets of “Sutherland” and “Risk” with their associated Mastcam images, along with some images to monitor dust in the atmosphere.

Fraeman concludes by pointing out that scientists are looking forward to seeing the results from the SAM run.

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