Curiosity Front Hazcam Left A image acquired on Sol 2262, December 17, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Now in Sol 2363, the Curiosity Mars rover is performing science duties and ready for new drilling activities on the Red Planet.

It is “Go for drill on the red Jura!” – the signal from Catherine O’Connell, a planetary geologist at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

Triage activities

In the rover’s last plan, triage activities were carried out on the red Jura target, “Rock Hall,” says O’Connell, including Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) analysis of the target to determine composition, and engineering tests to assess the stability of the rock and its hardness, both of which would affect the robot’s ability to drill.

“It was decided that this would be a suitable candidate, both geochemically and physically, O’Connell advises, so a recent plan will center around the drilling of what will hopefully be the mission’s 19th drill sample for analysis on Mars!

Curiosity Rear Hazcam Right A photo taken on Sol 2262, December 17, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Excess sample dumping

On Sol 2260, Curiosity’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) was slated to take a series of images to characterize locations chosen by the rover planners as the areas in which they would eventually like to dump excess sample generated by the drilling.

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo taken on Sol 2262, December 17, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

The drilling itself was to take place on the morning of the second sol (sol 2261).

In the blind

“Once this has completed, in the afternoon of sol 2261, the robot’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) was scheduled to do passive analysis of the drill tailings, and image the drill hole,” O’Connell adds.

Both will be done “in the blind” (without confirmation images), based on where the rover planners estimate their likely location to be. Scientists were also set to acquire Mastcam multi-spectral analysis of the drill tailings.

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo acquired on Sol 2262, December 17, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Layering in a hill

The Environmental theme group has requested some Mastcam atmospheric measurements, to be run in the morning and the afternoon of sol 2262.

In addition to the afternoon environmental activities, Mastcam was to document layering in a hill called “Lairig Ghru.”

Standard Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) and Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) passive activities are spread throughout the three sol plan, O’Connell concludes.

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