Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image taken on Sol 1495, October 20, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image taken on Sol 1495, October 20, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scientists are delighted with the progress of the Curiosity Mars rover, given that the robot has successfully created a new drill hole.

Curiosity is now in Sol 1497.

According to planning reports, Sol 1496 was to start with a Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) passive observation of the dump pile of material from “Quela”, the rover’s previous drill hole.

Sebina – new drill hole

ChemCam also has passive observations of the tailings from the new hole at “Sebina”, followed by active observations using its laser.

Reports Ryan Anderson of the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, Curiosity’s Mastcam is perform observations of the tailings and dump pile, plus an image to monitor the sand and dust on the rover deck, and a couple of atmospheric observations.

Curiosity's Mastcam Left image, taken on Sol 1495, October 20, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Head held high – drill head that is! Curiosity’s Mastcam Left image, taken on Sol 1495, October 20, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Also in the 1496 plan, the drill sample from “Sebina” is slated to be dropped off in Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin). The robot’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) is to take pictures of the drill hole and the CheMin inlet.

Overnight, CheMin will analyze the sample while the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) analyzes the drill tailings, Anderson adds.

Weekend plans

For Sols 1497-1499, the plan calls for a very busy weekend of rover duties.

“We’ve got quite a plan in store for the weekend, with every single instrument doing something, multiple arm activities, and a drive,” Anderson points out. “Curiosity’s battery will be run all the way down to 35 percent which is quite rare,” he adds, “but necessary when there’s a lot to do!”

Sol 1497 is to start off with ChemCam observations of the targets “Okambonde” and “Nokaneng” and supporting images from Curiosity’s Mastcam.

“Next we lift APXS off of the tailings pile it had been analyzing and take some MAHLI images of the print that it left,” Anderson reports. The rover’s MAHLI is also set to take some pictures of the first dump pile from the “Sebina” drill hole and APXS will analyze that dump pile overnight.

Curiosity's Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1496, October 21, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity’s Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1496, October 21, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Sky flats

Also on Sol 1497, ChemCam has some “sky flats” with Curiosity taking pictures of the sky to serve as a smooth reference image to use when processing Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) photos.

On Sol 1498 MAHLI is slated to take pictures of the APXS print left in the Sebina dump pile, the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) UV sensor, and then will take its own sky flats!

ChemCam has a passive observation of the Sebina dump pile, followed by active observations of the dump pile, the drill tailings, and the targets “Coemba” and “Luma Cassao.”

Rover deck shots

Mastcam will provide supporting images for the ChemCam and do some more monitoring of sand and dust on top of the rover deck.

In the morning of Sol 1499, the robot’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite has an engineering test, and Navcam and Mastcam have a bunch of atmospheric observations.

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1496, October 21, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1496, October 21, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

“Later in the day, ChemCam will observe “Nokaneng” again. Originally this observation was going to be on a different target, but it turned out that the rover’s arm was going to be in the way,” Anderson reports.

Mastcam is also to acquire pictures of the “Quela” dump pile, another ChemCam support image of “Nokaneng” and some more atmospheric observations.

Short drive

“Finally, we’ll do a short drive. Originally the plan was to continue along our traverse toward Mt. Sharp, but the team decided to change the drive a bit to get into position for some imaging next week,” Anderson notes.

Curiosity’s Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) is scheduled to take an image of the surface after the drive. The robot’s Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) and the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) instruments will continue their normal ongoing data collection.

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1496, October 21, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1496, October 21, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

“Phew! It was a marathon of a planning day,” Anderson concludes, “but it’s good to be getting the most science possible out of our hard-working rover!”

As always dates of projected rover activities are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

Leave a Reply

Griffith Observatory Event