This image is a view of the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) inlet before dropping off the “Glasgow” drill sample.
Photo taken by Curiosity Mast Camera Left on Sol 2765, May 17, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2769 tasks.

Curiosity is still busy at “Glasgow” with the rover’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite analyzing the drill sample in an upcoming plan, reports Susanne Schwenzer, a planetary geologist at The Open University, Milton Keynes, in the U.K.

This image shows the ChemCam target “Gutcher” and was taken by Curiosity Chemistry & Camera Remote Micro-Imaging (RMI) camera on Sol 2768 May 20, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

“This takes a lot of the rover’s power, thus other activities have to wait just a little,” Schwenzer explains. “But we are all looking forward to what SAM will find, so patience isn’t a problem at all!”

Mineralogy questions

Questions those SAM analysis can answer, from a mineralogist point of view are: “How much water does this sample release when heated?” and “How much sulphur does this sample release?” – both of which are very important additions to the information we get for mineralogy from the robot’s Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin) and for chemistry from ChemCam and APXS.

Despite the power going mostly to SAM, there are two ChemCam activities planned.

Curiosity Chemistry & Camera Remote Micro-Imaging (RMI) camera photo taken on Sol 2768 May 20, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Target “Glenapp” will be used for ChemCam pointing test. “Since the instrument is looking at tiny, tiny things on Mars, the team is going to use this activity to even better understand the accuracy with which the laser hits its target,” Schwenzer notes.

The second target, “Bowhill,” is a float rock that could come from the pediment, at least that’s how it looks to today’s planning team.

“ChemCam will investigate it, so we can be sure by comparing the chemistry of the pediment rocks and this one,” Schwenzer reports.

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Right B image acquired on Sol 2768, May 20, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity’s Mastcam is slated to document ChemCam targets, looking at “Glowhill,” “Gutcher,” “Thistle Street,” “Lochbuie,” and “Glasgow.”

Curiosity Rear Hazard Avoidance Camera Left B photo taken on Sol 2768, May 20, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Sand patch

The robot’s Mastcam will also investigate a sand patch near the rover to add to the science on modern sediments that the team has been doing throughout the mission.

And then Mars researchers start to “stare into the distance,” Schwenzer says.

Curiosity Mast Camera Right image taken on Sol 2767, May 19, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera photo acquired on Sol 2768, May 20, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

On the schedule is a Navcam line of sight, and Navcam suprahorizon and zenith movies, and then a look for dust devils, too, Schwenzer concludes. All this will allow the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) team to assess the status of the atmosphere and its dust load.

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