Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B photo acquired on Sol 2109, July 13, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is wrapping up Sol 2109 duties on Vera Rubin Ridge.

Abigail Fraeman, a planetary geologist at NASA/JPL in Pasadena, California, notes one of the most significant aspects of Vera Rubin Ridge is the signature of the mineral hematite (Fe2O3).

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 2109, July 13, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Fraeman recalls that she and many collaborators spent the winter and spring of 2012 — the time between launch of Curiosity and its landing — working out the geological implications of this discovery as best as possible using orbital data.

Poised to drill

“Almost 2100 sols and countless exciting discoveries later, Curiosity is now poised to drill at the exact spot we first detected the strongest hematite signature over seven years ago,” Fraeman reports. “We’ve named the new drill target ‘Voyageurs’ after a National Park in northern Minnesota. I love this name because it reminds me we truly are a team of voyagers, participating in a mission of exploration and discovery.”

The data collected from this upcoming sample will help Mars researchers better understand the environments that shaped Mt. Sharp over time. On a personal level, it will allow Fraeman to test some of the hypotheses she first started to formulate as a graduate student back in 2012.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) produced on Sol 2109, July 13, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Drilling campaign

Sol 2109 will be the first sol of our drilling campaign at Voyageurs – very close to the former target “Stranraer” that the rover examined back around sol 2004.

The main focus of the current plan will be contact science of the site, including use of Curiosity’s Dust Removal Tool, its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), and observations by the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS).

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) produced on Sol 2109, July 13, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Also on tap is taking a Mastcam documentation of a recent Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science (AEGIS) target and do some Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) calibration activities.

“As always, we will continue to take environmental science observations to monitor the ongoing dust storm,” Fraeman concludes. “As you can imagine, I am quite anxious and excited to see what we find!”

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 2108, July 12, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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