Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 2384, April 21, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2387 duties.

“The drilling planned for last weekend was successful,” reports Ken Herkenhoff, a planetary geologist at the USGS in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 2384, April 21, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The recent top priority for the robot is to drop portions of the Kilmarie sample onto a closed Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite inlet cover and take Mastcam images after each dropoff to characterize the size of each portion.

“The results of this portioning test will be used to decide how many portions to eventually drop into SAM,” Herkenhoff adds. After this testing is completed, Mastcam will measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere above the robot by imaging the Sun through neutral-density filters, and Navcam will search for clouds.

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo taken on Sol 2386, April 23, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Aberlady in focus

The Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) is scheduled to acquire a “stack” of images of the Aberlady drill hole at various focus settings to find the best focus setting for future Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) elemental chemistry measurements from the rover’s new vantage point, Herkenhoff explains.

“The RMI will also acquire a couple mosaics of the sulfate-rich rocks exposed in the distance southeast of the rover. Mastcam will measure variations in sky brightness to constrain the size of dust grains suspended in the atmosphere before the rover takes a long nap,” Herkenhoff reports.

Also on tap is use of Curiosity’s Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin). This instrument will vibrate its inlet sieve and dump the Aberlady sample in preparation for analysis of the Kilmarie drill sample.

Dust opacity

Slated for Sol 2387 tasks, the robot’s Mastcam will again measure dust opacity and Navcam will search for dust devils and clouds.

Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B image acquired on Sol 2386, April 23, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“ChemCam will then use its laser to measure the elemental chemistry in the wall of the new Kilmarie drill hole,” Herkenhoff notes, “and of a nearby pebble named ‘Quirang’ and a bedrock outcrop named ‘Caledonian Canal.’”

Also scheduled is use of the Right Mastcam to image all of the ChemCam targets before Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) turns on its neutron generator to search for hydrogen up to half a meter below the surface.

Curiosity Navcam Right B image taken on Sol 2386, April 23, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Herkenhoff concludes by noting that Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) activities are precluded while there is sample in the drill stem.

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