Curiosity Mast Camera Left photo acquired on Sol 2720, April 1, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has just started Sol 2722 operations.

Lucy Thompson, a planetary geologist at University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada explains that the primary focus of a two-sol plan is to prepare the drill bit assembly to dump the remaining “Edinburgh” drilled sample (portion to exhaustion), so that it can be analyzed in the upcoming weekend plan with the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) instruments for chemistry and texture respectively.

Curiosity Mast Camera Left image taken on Sol 2720, March 31, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS



Sample delivery

Sample has successfully been delivered to both Curiosity’s internal Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin) and Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instruments, Thompson adds, and scientists are awaiting the results of the mineralogy and volatile/isotope chemistry, with the 3rd night of CheMin analysis in this plan.

Individual frame of one of the Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro Imager (RMI) telescope photos to create long distance mosaics. Image acquired on Sol 2719, March 30, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech





“The Edinburgh sample represents the blocky, dark grey sandstone, pediment-capping unit that overlies the Murray mudstone,” Thompson reports.  Science team members are interested to see how the mineralogy and chemistry might differ between these two rocks types, given that they were likely deposited in different environments.

NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRise image showing the “washboard” pattern (bottom, center) of the pediment-capping unit. This localization map also shows Curiosity’s current location (last yellow dot) and some of the traverse.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

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