Curiosity Mast Camera Right photo taken on Sol 2754, May 5, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2757 duties.

A second try at drilling the “Glasgow” target proved successful creating the 26th drill hole on Mars!

“It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a little over a month since we drilled our last sample ‘Edinburgh.’ Curiosity is certainly making quick progress in the ‘Glen Torridon’ region,” reports Vivian Sun, Planetary Geologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image acquired on Sol 2756, May 8, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Drill campaign sequence

The focus of a newly scripted two-sol plan (Sols 2756-2757) is portion characterization, which is the next step in the rover’s drill campaign sequence.

This portion characterization step consists of Curiosity’s arm dropping a few portions of drill powder onto a surface, Sun adds, with the robot’s Mastcam imaging before and after to check the drilled sample before delivering it to Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin) and the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite.

“Aside from this important and exciting activity, the team also planned a variety of remote sensing activities to study the rocks and environment around Glasgow,” Sun says.

Curiosity Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) remote micro-imager (RMI) photo taken on Sol 2755, May 6, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Nodular bedrock

Curiosity’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) will be observing two targets on nodular bedrock, “Polwarth” and “Rob Roy Way,” which may give researchers insight into how these rocks interacted with water.

Another two targets, “Valsgarth” and “Lunnain,” are located on less nodular portions of bedrock, and will help scientists characterize the typical composition of the rocks at the drill site.

ChemCam’s final observation in this plan is a long-distance image of “Puffin,” which is a nodular crossbedded portion of the pediment cap.

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Right B image taken on Sol 2756, May 8, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Environmental observations

“A number of Mastcam images and mosaics are planned, including a large mosaic of a trough feature that continues the coverage from a mosaic in the previous plan,” Sun explains. “Part of this Mastcam mosaic will also expand high-resolution imaging of our workspace, which will help us target higher-resolution features in future plans.”

A Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) image is also to be acquired, and will serve as the baseline image for future change-detection observations while the rover is parked at the Glasgow drill site.

“Rounding out our plan is a suite of environmental observations aimed at characterizing local atmospheric conditions,” Sun concludes, “especially now that we’re entering the season where dust activity may be picking up.”

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