Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Left B image taken on Sol 2891, September 23, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is presently performing Sol 2892 tasks.

Susanne Schwenzer, a planetary geologist at The Open University; Milton Keynes, U.K., reports that Mars researchers are continuing to finish recent drilling activities.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager photo produced on Sol 2890, September 22, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

They are taking a look at the instrument inlets on top of the rover deck to make sure no sample is remaining on the mesh or elsewhere that can be viewed.

 

 

New target

“We are already on the lookout for the nearby target ‘Ayton,’” notes Schwenzer. “We want to drill there too, to follow up the chemical changes we have observed in the area. Maybe Mars is going to tell us something really interesting here?”

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager photo produced on Sol 2890, September 22, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

All the observed nodules must mean something, but just exactly what researchers cannot tell without full mineralogy.

“Geologists love images, but occasionally mineralogy is the other friend we want to see, too! One of the questions is in what ways the nodules are similar or different from nodules we have seen previously,” Schwenzer adds.


Curiosity Mast Camera Left photo taken on Sol 2890, September 22, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Sharpening the digital pencil

With “Mary Anning” drill holes so close by, Mars scientists can also compare the two, which will further enhance science opportunities.

“As a geochemist and modeler,” Schwenzer remarks, “I am certainly very excited and have sharpened the (digital) pencil to get going on my modeling as soon as I can!”

A recently scripted Curiosity plan has the robot wrapping up some of the mosaic-observations started – and taking advantage of the fact that the rover stays in one place for a slice of time during a drill campaign.

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image acquired on Sol 2891, September 23, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Morphology of the workspace

Curiosity’s Mastcam is adding two sets of stereo images to the tally at its current location to further investigate the morphology of the workspace and to fill a gap at an interesting spot for a full analysis of the structures in the workspace, Schwenzer reports. In addition, change detection observations are continuing at “Upper Ollach.”

The rover’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) is also used for imaging, doing a Remote Micro Imager (RMI) long distance observation to extend the mosaic.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager photo produced on Sol 2890, September 22, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

 

Happy dance

The robot’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) is looking forward and investigating a target near the new drill site at Ayton. The target’s name is “Underhoul” and APXS is accompanied by Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) investigations.

Environmental researchers still monitor the atmosphere closely, with observations of the dust and opacity.

Curiosity Chemistry & Camera RMI photo taken on Sol 2891, September 23, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

 

 

“Lots of images,” Schwenzer concludes, “happy dance from all geologists!”

As always, dates of planned rover activities are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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