Curiosity's Mastcam Right image from Sol 1141, taken on October 22, 2015. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity’s Mastcam Right image from Sol 1141, taken on October 22, 2015.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Curiosity rover is just entering Sol 1143 on Mars.

Recent rover research in the last few days involved both daytime and nighttime activities.

According to Ken Herkenhoff of the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, unsieved parts of the recently collected Greenhorn drill sample are being dumped onto nearby ground.

Using the rover’s Mastcam and Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), pictures of the resulting pile were taken.

Also slated, using the rover’s Mastcam and Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) to observe the target “Maywood” to better characterize the variations in silica content near the rover.

After dusk, the script had MAHLI using its LEDs to take pictures of the walls and bottom of the drill hole. MAHLI will also take close-up images of the drill tailings, Herkenhoff added.

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager shows laser strikes down the hole on Sol 1141, October 22, 2015. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager shows laser strikes down the hole on Sol 1141, October 22, 2015.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

 

 

Laser blasting

Recently, images of the drill hole were used to have Curiosity’s ChemCam fire the instrument’s laser down the hole. Doing so allows scientists to analyze the elemental composition of vaporized materials. The technique should be useful in measuring variations in chemistry among individual sand grains and in detecting thin veins.

 

 

 

 

The strata in the foreground dip towards the base of Mount Sharp, indicating flow of water toward a basin that existed before the larger bulk of the mountain formed. Note that the colors are adjusted so that rocks look approximately as they would if they were on Earth, to help geologists interpret the rocks. This "white balancing" to adjust for the lighting on Mars overly compensates for the absence of blue on Mars, making the sky appear light blue and sometimes giving dark, black rocks a blue cast. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The strata in the foreground dip towards the base of Mount Sharp, indicating flow of water toward a basin that existed before the larger bulk of the mountain formed. Note that the colors are adjusted so that rocks look approximately as they would if they were on Earth, to help geologists interpret the rocks. This “white balancing” to adjust for the lighting on Mars overly compensates for the absence of blue on Mars, making the sky appear light blue and sometimes giving dark, black rocks a blue cast.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

 

Ancient depression

Curiosity has been busy inspecting the strata at the base of Mount Sharp.

That strata dips towards the base of Mount Sharp, indicating the ancient depression that existed before the larger bulk of the mountain formed, according to a Jet Propulsion Laboratory website dedicated to Curiosity activities.

 

 

Back on the road

In a late Friday update, the weekend plan calls for Curiosity to depart the current exploration site.

Lauren Edgar, a research geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center, explains: “After several weeks at ‘Big Sky’ and ‘Greenhorn’, it feels good to be getting back on the road…and by road I mean completely uncharted territory on another planet!”

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