Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 2878, September 10, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now carrying out Sol 2879 tasks.

It is “opening night” at the rover’s current site, reports Scott Guzewich, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“Ten sols ago was our final dress rehearsal and today’s plan is opening night for an experiment that has been anticipated since we landed just over 8 years ago,” Guzewich adds.

 

Inside job

After the robot’s successful drilling of “Mary Anning 3,” bits of rock powder are waiting in the drill assembly for delivery to the robot’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite. A recently scripted plan has Curiosity extending its arm over the SAM inlets (the paddle shaped doors) and then rotate the drill backwards so that six portions of powdered rock are dropped off.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 2878, September 10, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Once inside SAM, the powdered bits of rock will be soaked a very special solution called TMAH,” Guzewich explains.

 

 

 

 

 

BTW: TMAH is mercifully short for a chemical mouth full: tetramethylammonium hydroxide.

Curiosity Chemistry & Camera Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) photo acquired on Sol 2878, September 10, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

8 year wait

“TMAH will help our science team identify what fragments of organic (carbon-bearing) materials are present in the clay-rich rock of Mary Anning,” Guzewich says. “SAM contains only two small containers of TMAH and so we’ve been waiting for 8 years for just the right rock to drill to use this very precious expendable commodity.”

Curiosity Chemistry & Camera Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) photo acquired on Sol 2878, September 10, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

“The wait is finally over and SAM will hopefully soon give us new insight into the chemistry of ancient Mars,” Guzewich concludes.

Leave a Reply