A rock fragment dubbed "Lamoose" is shown in this picture taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on NASA's Curiosity rover.  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

A rock fragment dubbed “Lamoose” is shown in this picture taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on NASA’s Curiosity rover.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The NASA Curiosity Mars rover is being nudged to a target called “Buckskin”, which is in the area where scientists have discovered rocks high in silica and hydrogen.

In other duties, rover planners scheduled ChemCam and Mastcam observations of targets “Marent”, “Pilcher”, and “Twinkle” – all of which may also have high silica, reports USGS scientist, Ryan Anderson, at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.

The rover’s Navcam is being used to search for dust devils and do some atmospheric monitoring.

On sol 1056, the rover is executing a short drive, followed by standard post-drive imaging to prepare for contact science on some of these interesting rocks next week, Anderson adds.

A rock outcrop dubbed "Missoula," near Marias Pass on Mars, is seen in this image mosaic taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager on NASA's Curiosity rover.  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

A rock outcrop dubbed “Missoula,” near Marias Pass on Mars, is seen in this image mosaic taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager on NASA’s Curiosity rover.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

High-levels

Silica-rich rocks have been identified near Curiosity, making use of its laser-firing instrument.

According to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Curiosity Mars rover website, finding bedrock with surprisingly high levels of silica is a target unlike anything it the robot has studied before.

High levels of silica in the rock could indicate ideal conditions for preserving ancient organic material, if present, so rover scientists are eager to take a closer look.

Bright outcrop of interest, dubbed "Lion". Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Bright outcrop of interest, dubbed “Lion”.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity has been working on Mars since early August 2012. It reached the base of Mount Sharp last year after investigating outcrops closer to its landing site and then trekking to the mountain.

The main mission objective now is to examine successively higher layers of Mount Sharp.

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