Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo of drill hole taken on Sol 2123, July 27, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Now performing Sol 2124 duties, NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has been stymied once again by partially drilling into hard rock.

“Our attempt at drilling the target ‘Ailsa Craig’ was partly successful,” reports Ryan Anderson, planetary geologist at the USGS in Flagstaff, Arizona. “The drill behaved exactly as it was supposed to, but unfortunately we weren’t able to drill very deep. The rock here is just too hard!”

Moving on

Anderson adds that since the robot didn’t get a nice deep drill hole, the plan for the weekend is to do some final observations at this location and then move on another location to try again.

Curiosity Navcam Right B image acquired on Sol 2123, July 27, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The science block on Sol 2124 starts with a Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) passive observation of the pulverized rock tailings from the newer shallow drill hole.

That will be followed by an “active” (laser zapping) observation of the vein target “LamLash Bay” accompanied by Mastcam multispectral images.

Dust level monitoring

Later in the afternoon, the plan calls for use of the rover’s Mastcam and Navcam to do atmospheric observations to monitor the dust levels as the planet-encircling storm gradually dies down. The day is to be wrapped up with Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) observations on and off of the drill hole.

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 2123, July 27, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

In the morning of Sol 2125, the plan involves Navcam and Mastcam taking atmospheric observations. “Later in the afternoon, ChemCam will also analyze the chemistry of the drill hole and tailings and Mastcam and Navcam will do some more atmospheric measurements, including watching for dust devils,” Anderson explains.

Next drill locale

On Sol 2126, Curiosity is slated to drive toward a next potential drill location.

“We’ll collect the usual post-drive images to help us choose targets on Monday, as well as some more dust monitoring with Navcam,” Anderson concludes.

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