Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B image taken on Sol 2526, September 14, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now wrapping up Sol 2527 duties.

The Red Planet machinery has returned to operations after standing down during the recent opposition from August 28 to September 7, 2019 – a period when Mars is on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth and curtails communications between Earth and the Red Planet.

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo acquired on Sol 2526, September 14, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Reports Lucy Thompson, a planetary geologist at University of New Brunswick, the current focus of Curiosity’s activities is to finish up the analyses associated with the drilling campaign at “Glen Etive 1.”

Curiosity Navcam Right B photo taken on Sol 2526, September 14, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Chemistry, color and texture

Recently, dump drill fines from the drill bit assembly (DBA) and the analyses of those fines have been done with the rover’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) (for chemistry) and the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) (for close up color and texture), as well as obtaining MAHLI images of the drill hole and associated fines surrounding the hole (tailings). The hole is roughly 1.6 centimeters in diameter.

Curiosity Rear Hazcam Left B image taken on Sol 2526, September 14, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“The MAHLI images of the drill tailings allowed us to choose the best location on the tailings to analyze with APXS,” Thompson notes. “We are interested in comparing the chemistry of the tailings, versus the DBA fines, versus the brushed surface prior to drilling to look for variations in composition with depth. We may have intersected different layers during drilling; the tailings are typically derived from the top 2 centimeters of the drill hole, while the DBA fines are derived from the lower several centimeters.”

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo produced on Sol 2524, September 12, 2019. MAHLI is located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo produced on Sol 2524, September 12, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

 

Down the hole

Additional MAHLI imaging of the drill hole was also planned, including angled night time imaging down the hole to look for any obvious layering or veins, Thompson adds.

“The team is looking forward to wrapping up here at Glen Etive 1,” Thompson concludes, and drilling another hole close by to enable a more detailed study of this material with the internal rover laboratory instruments, the Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin) and the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite.

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