Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Right B image taken on Sol 3240, September 17, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at Gale Crater is now performing Sol 3241 tasks.

Reports Catherine O’Connell-Cooper, a planetary geologist at University of New Brunswick; Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, a sample of Mars was delivered to the robot’s SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) for an EGA (evolved gas analysis) activity. That step involved heating the sample to very high temperatures and measuring the gases that bake out of the sample with each temperature increment.

Curiosity Rear Hazard Avoidance Camera Right B photo acquired on Sol 3240, September 17, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Researchers were waiting to see what SAM thought – had it got enough information from the sample, or was there interest in going further?

“And SAM said Yes please!…and requested a follow up activity, using the gas chromatograph and mass spectrometer (GCMS), which can identify different compounds,” O’Connell-Cooper adds.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera photo taken on Sol 3239, September 16, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Weekend plans

On the first sol of the weekend, SAM will uplink a sequence to clean the SAM Gas Columns (GC) before analyzing the sample on the second sol of the weekend plan (Sols 3241-3243).

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera photo taken on Sol 3239, September 16, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“These are very power intensive procedures,” O’Connell-Cooper notes, so the rover was limited in its activities. “Luckily, this workspace continues to interest us.”

A raised vein area, with one sample “Falls of Shin” right on the vein itself and a second sample “Falls of Foyers” a little beyond the vein area. This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera, with the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) target “Falls of Shin” in the center of the image. Photo taken on Sol 3222, September 29, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) is conducting a paired experiment across a raised vein area, with one sample “Falls of Shin” right on the vein itself and a second sample “Falls of Foyers” a little beyond the vein area.

“This will allow the ChemCam team to study the alteration effects associated with the vein,” O’Connell-Cooper explains.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera image acquired on Sol 3240, September 17, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Moving toward conjunction

No Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) or Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) activity is allowed until the drilled sample is emptied from the drill.

“However, next week will be busy, cramming all our final contact science investigations on the Maria Gordon drilled samples before we move into conjunction the following week,” O’Connell-Cooper adds.” Curiosity gets to take a bit of a vacation for a couple of weeks, as it moves behind the sun, and all communications will cease for two weeks.”

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera image acquired on Sol 3240, September 17, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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