Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Left B photo taken on Sol 2748, April 29, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now working Sol 2748 tasks.

Mars researchers are planning the rover’s activities at the next planned drill site, Reports Sean Czarnecki, a planetary geologist at Arizona State University in Tempe.

That plan is to gather science data about the site before drilling “Glasgow.”

“This is very similar to what a field geologist on Earth would do,” Czarnecki notes.

Curiosity Rear Hazard Avoidance Camera Left B image acquired on Sol 2748, April 29, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Before gathering a sample, geologists must first: Determine what rock they want to sample, find the best location for sample collection, and record all relevant field observations/data in a standard field notebook.

Drill campaign

Despite the closest human geologist being over 115 million miles (186 million kilometers) away, “our curious little robotic geologist has all the tools necessary to do a similar assessment on Mars (with a little help from some humans on Earth). In the case of Curiosity’s current drill campaign, we had already determined which rock type we wanted to sample for this drill campaign and identified and drove to the location where the best sample could be obtained,” Czarnecki notes.

Curiosity Left Navigation Camera photo taken on Sol 2747.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

In a recent plan, the robot’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam), Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS), and Mastcam are measuring the composition of the drill target Glasgow, and its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) is slated to take images of this target before and after removing dust in order to document the rock surface prior to drilling.

Atmospheric chemistry

ChemCam will also target “Dalmellington Burns,” “George Square,” and “Large Island” for additional geochemical context of the drill area, Czarnecki explains, while Mastcam documents each of these targets with images.

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Right B photo taken on Sol 2747, April 28, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

Curiosity’s APXS will also look to the sky to measure atmospheric chemistry.

Additionally, Mastcam will take a 360° mosaic, the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) and the Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) will provide remote sensing measurements of the atmospheric and subsurface environment, and Navcam will search for atmospheric dust, clouds and dust devils.

 

Concludes Czarnecki: “That should be enough data to satisfy any geologist!”

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