Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B image acquired on Sol 2414, May 22, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2414 science duties.

“Curiosity is investigating an area that is very high in potassium, and we’re trying to characterize the distribution and the source of that potassium,” reports Ashley Stroupe, a mission operations engineer at NASA/JPL in Pasadena, California.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 2414, May 22, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The robot recently completed a short drive to get one of these potassium-rich rocks into its view – “Grampian Mountains.”

“While this target isn’t viable for drilling, it is a good example of this potassium-rich area, which is now in our workspace,” Stroupe adds.

Science block

Curiosity science planners are starting out with some contact science via the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the target.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo produced on Sol 2413, May 21, 2019. MAHLI is located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

After the arm activities, there is a long targeted science block with Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) and Mastcam of several targets, including Grampian Mountains, “Annbank” and (to a lesser extent) “Brimmond.”

They have similarities to the Woodland Bay block that was examined on sol 2359 (and which might be another possible drill target), “so we’re examining them to make a comparison,” Stroupe points out. “Our fourth target is “Balintore,” which is part of our systematic bedrock survey; we’re looking for more potassium-rich bedrock.”

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo produced on Sol 2414, May 22, 2019. MAHLI is located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Next drill decision

After Curiosity completes science observations at this location, the robot will be heading toward what researchers hope is the next drill location, target “Hallaig.”

“Hallaig rock was already identified by ChemCam as being potassium-rich. The rover planner evaluation looks promising for drilling, though it is still unclear from remote sensing how representative Hallaig is of this general area,” Stroupe explains.

Laser strikes observed by Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo taken on Sol 2414, May 22, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

 

 

“The rover planners are able to turn and drive straight to this target; the terrain is benign enough that the parking requirements for drilling are not highly constraining. Our post-drive imaging will include high-quality color imaging of two spots on the rock to help us evaluate them for possible drilling,” Stroupe concludes. “If things look good, we may be drilling as early as the weekend!”

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

 

 

 

New traverse map

Meanwhile, a new Curiosity traverse map through Sol 2412 has been produced.

The map shows the route driven by Curiosity through the 2412 Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission on Mars (May 20, 2019).

Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up. The scale bar is 1 kilometer (~0.62 mile).

From Sol 2408 to Sol 2412, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 129.71 feet (39.54 meters), bringing the rover’s total odometry for the mission to 12.74 miles (20.50 kilometers).

The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Curiosity Mastcam Left photo acquired on Sol 2413, May 21, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

 

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