Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager photo produced on Sol 2684, February 24, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now carrying out Sol 2685 tasks.

Susanne Schwenzer, a planetary geologist at The Open University, Milton Keynes, U.K., reports that Mars scientists are still in the middle of the Hutton drill campaign.

“This gives us lots of things to do, but power constraints restrict what we can achieve each planning. But, we’ll get this all done, we just need to be patient,” Schwenzer adds.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager photo produced on Sol 2684, February 24, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Portioning and dumping

A recent focus of planning was to progress with the drill activities, mainly dealing with the remainder of the portioning and then dumping the samples and getting the robot’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) overnight on it. “There was a lot of discussion how to play that ‘power tetris’ once again,” Schwenzer notes.

First, arm movements were required to carry out further portioning of the sample, and then dump the sample. Mastcam, APXS and the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) were tasked to document the chemistry and textures of the dump pile.

Dump pile. Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager photo produced on Sol 2684, February 24, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Document the buttes

Documenting the area far and near is one of the priorities for Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) and Mastcam. Planning also involved two Remote Micro Imager (RMI) telescope mosaics to document the buttes around the rover, named “South Esk 2” and “Glenrothes 2,” and there is a further RMI mosaic, named “Moray Firth.”

Curiosity Chemistry & Camera Remote Micro Imager (RMI) telescope photo taken on Sol 2684, February 23, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

“The latter is especially looking at the capping material of the butte – and the contact to the underlying rocks,” Schwenzer explains. “All those images will serve to investigate the sedimentary features of the area and understand if wind or water reformed these rocks. With the opportunity to image the buttes from three dimensions, there is great opportunity to get behind all the details.”

Sedimentary structures

Schwenzer reports that Mastcam is joining the imaging campaign, with one single frame stereo image to join previous mosaics, and two mosaics: a 9×1 of the target “Craiglaw Point,” which is to document the sedimentary structures at this location.

Curiosity Chemistry & Camera Remote Micro Imager (RMI) telescope photo taken on Sol 2684, February 23, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

 

Mastcam is also joining the RMI sedimentology campaign with a 3×1 of the target “Morav Firth.” There are also images to document the ChemCam activities.

“ChemCam is busy documenting the chemistry in the area of the Hutton drill hole as there is a lot of diversity in the rocks,” Schwenzer adds. The targets in the new plan will investigate three targets: “Glen Rosa,” “Glen Quaich” and “Glen Shira.”

Lastly, Curiosity’s Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) and Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS are also busy doing their regular measurements.

“A lot to do, even for a three-sol [Sol 2683-2685] plan,” Schwenzer concludes.

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