Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 2150, August 24, 2018
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

In a Sol 2150 report, Roger Wiens, a geochemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico said a decision was forthcoming whether to re-do the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite analysis or not.

Curiosity Mastcam Left photo acquired on Sol 2146, August 20, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Now that the rover’s drill is being operated with the feed immobile in the extended position, Wiens said the portions (amount of drill tailings) that are delivered to Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin) and SAM are less accurate than before.

“Duluth was the only previous drill attempt to reach sampling depth with the feed immobile. In that case several attempts were made to deliver proper portions to the in-situ instrument funnels,” Wiens explained.

Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B image taken on Sol 2151, August 25, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Successful analysis

Noting the SAM inlets on the rover deck, with the covers closed, Wiens said that the rover team seems to have learned quite quickly how to get the portions to these instruments. Mars researchers did learn that SAM completed a successful analysis.

“The other part of the decision was whether to repeat SAM’s analysis with different parameters, but the team decided not to do so at this time, so now we can continue with the drill analysis sequence,” Wiens explained. “That will include dumping the rest of the material so we can see how much was left in the drill chambers. The operation will be carried out using two dozen separate portion drop-off sequences with Mastcam images in between to check how much material comes out.”

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo taken on Sol 2152, August 26, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Down the drill hole

Wiens said that the sequence “looks pretty cool.”

The arm swings down near the ground for each drop-off, then moves out of the way, and the mast points Mastcam to take an image. Then the mast turns away-to avoid any possible dust-while the arm swings down for the next drop off. Every drop-off is done in a slightly different location on rock surfaces, some being spaced 7 millimeters away from each other around a circle. Each little portion gets imaged.

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo taken on Sol 2152, August 26, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL


Other activities planned was for the robot to observe the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) bedrock target “Papa Little” and another ChemCam raster down the drill hole, with accompanying Mastcam documentation. There will also be half a dozen Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) change-detection images spaced throughout the day. Lastly, Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD), Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) and Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) will continue taking data.

Curiosity is now in Sol 2152.

Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B image taken on Sol 2152, August 26, 2018

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