Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image acquired on Sol 2166, September 9, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech



NASA’s Curiosity rover is now performing Sol 2167 duties.

The plan called for the rover to make a “bump” – that is, a drive of roughly 50 feet (15 meters) reports Lucy Thompson, a planetary geologist at the University of New Brunswick; Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

Curiosity Rear Hazcam Right B photo taken on Sol 2166, September 9, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

That drive was to place the robot, Thompson explains, “for an attempt at drilling an interesting grey colored patch of bedrock,” identified from orbit within the Jura member of the Murray formation on the Vera Rubin Ridge, referred to as “Loch Eriboll.”

“We want to figure out how these patches of bedrock differ from the surrounding tan colored rocks, more typical of what we see from orbit,” Thompson adds.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 2166, September 9, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Broken up, smaller pieces of rock

Curiosity had the potential to do a “touch and go” in the plan, whereby it would unstow its robotic arm and use the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) instruments to examine the chemistry and texture of a target close-up, before driving away.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 2166, September 9, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“However, the workspace consists of a lot of broken up, smaller pieces of rock and we already have a lot of compositional and textural information of similar rocks,” Thompson adds. The ability to use the arm is instead being utilized to acquire MAHLI close-up imaging of the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) ultra-violet sensor.

Curiosity Navcam Right B photo acquired on Sol 2166, September 9, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This is requested periodically to check for dust and the general health of the sensor.

Targets for investigation

“We decided to concentrate our efforts on the bump and some remote science observations using instruments situated on the rover’s mast. We selected 4 bedrock targets for investigation with ChemCam (“The Law,” “Eathie,” “The Minch” and “Windy Hills”), to monitor compositional variation, accompanied by Mastcam documentation of those targets,” Thompson explains.

Mastcam mosaics are being acquired of the “Laithach” area where scientists observe a potential contact between the grey and tan rocks, and the “Loch Eriboll” area, which will include multiple filters to look at the spectral properties of the different rocks.

New workspace

“We then bump to our potential drill location,” Thompson notes, followed by imaging of the new workspace and a 20 minute Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) Active measurement.

Curiosity Mastcam Right image acquired on Sol 2165, September 8, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Post-drive, there are two untargeted Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science (AEGIS) software activities to look at bedrock composition, standard REMS and DAN passive, Navcam imaging. Also on the plan is use of the Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin) vibe and dump sample (after X-ray diffraction on the previously drilled “Stoer” material), Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) (used to document the ground immediately beneath the rover wheels) and SAM Electrical Baseline Test (to periodically monitor SAM’s electrical functions).

Thompson concludes that it’s a busy 2-sol plan to hopefully set up Curiosity’s drilling duties.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) Sol 2166 September 9, 2018. MAHLI is located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSSling duties.

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