This image was taken January 16 by Front Hazcam: Right B onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 869. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This image was taken January 16 by Front Hazcam: Right B onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 869.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This image was taken January 14 by Curiosity’s Mastcam: Right camera on Sol 868.   Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

This image was taken January 14 by Curiosity’s Mastcam: Right camera on Sol 868.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has performed a mini-drill test to assess whether the “Mojave” rock is appropriate for full-depth drilling to collect a sample. Cracking of the rock has made freshly exposed surfaces available for inspection.

Using an onboard focusing process, the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) aboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity created this product by merging two to eight images previously taken by the MAHLI, located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm. Curiosity performed the merge on MAHLI January 16, 2015, Sol 869. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Using an onboard focusing process, the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) aboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity created this product by merging two to eight images previously taken by the MAHLI, located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm. Curiosity performed the merge on MAHLI January 16, 2015, Sol 869.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Mojave displays copious slender features — slightly smaller than grains of rice — that appear to be mineral crystals. A chance to learn their composition prompted the Curiosity science team to choose Mojave as the next rock-drilling target to further investigate Mars’ Gale Crater. The features might be a salt mineral left behind when lakewater evaporated.

Software upgrade for wheel wear

In a Jan. 14 statement, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) noted that this coming week there will be a weeklong pause in science operations to install a new version of rover flight software, possibly before completion of the drilling and sample delivery.

The software is the fourth new version of the onboard software since the rover’s August 2012 landing.

Real wheel wear! Curiosity’s Mars Hand Lens Imager snagged this image on January 14, 2015, Sol 868 of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Real wheel wear! Curiosity’s Mars Hand Lens Imager snagged this image on January 14, 2015, Sol 868 of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

One of the software upgrades will improve the rover’s ability to autonomously identify and drive in “good” terrain – landscape that can help reduce the observable wear and tear on Curiosity’s wheels.

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