Curiosity Navcam Left B photo taken on Sol 2368, April 5, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2369 duties.

Friday marked the conclusion of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Science Team Meeting, held at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image taken on Sol 2368, April 5, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“These meetings are where scientists and engineers can come together to discuss the ongoing activities associated with the Curiosity rover. They’re always productive opportunities to discuss strategies for analyzing previously collected data as well as strategies for investigating the terrain ahead of the rover,” reports Mark Salvatore, a planetary geologist from the University of Michigan in Dearborn, Michigan.

Curiosity Navcam Right B image acquired on Sol 2368, April 5, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Target selected

After significant discussion among the science team as well as analysis of the compositional data that came down recently from both the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instruments, the team has decided to proceed with drilling the “Aberlady” target.

“The additional compositional analyses confirmed that the composition of this target looks comparable to other targets within the clay-bearing unit,” Salvatore notes. “So, with the team coming to this consensus, today marks the planning of Day 1 of our typical drill cadence, complete with a pre-load drill test to monitor and examine the drill’s performance prior to actual drilling into the target.”

Curiosity Mastcam Right photo taken on Sol 2367, April 4, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Atmospheric argon

These activities are preceded by a 1.5 hour science block, which will focus primarily on additional ChemCam compositional analyses and Mastcam color and multispectral imaging of the workspace, Salvatore adds.

Laser dots seen by Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo acquired on Sol 2369, April 6, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

The plan calls for the rover’s APXS to begin a series of two integrations.

“However, instead of placing the sensor head on the martian surface to investigate the compositions of rocks and sediments, APXS will turn her sensor skywards to measure seasonal changes in atmospheric argon,” Salvatore points out. “These activities will set us up nicely to continue with the drill campaign, hopefully resulting in a full drill effort sometime this weekend.”

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) image produced on Sol 2368, April 5, 2019. MAHLI is located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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