MISSION UPDATES | August 2, 2019

Sols 2485-2487: Affirm-Etive: We Are GO for Drilling at Glen Etive 1!

Written by Lucy Thompson, Planetary Geologist at University of New Brunswick
Sols 2485-2487: Affirm-Etive: We Are GO for Drilling at Glen Etive 1!

~35 cm standoff MAHLI image of the Glen Etive 1 target after brushing and the preload test.

Late during planning yesterday, we got the go ahead to proceed with full drilling at "Glen Etive 1." We received the results of the APXS and ChemCam compositional analysis of the prospective drill target, as well as the MAHLI imaging of the area both before and after a preload test (see the accompanying image). The preload test is exactly what it sounds like; exerting a load onto the surface bedrock to check that it can withstand the force of drilling. The engineers and science team assessed the results of these analyses and concluded that it is safe to drill the Glen Etive target. Therefore, the weekend plan is dominated by the drill activity, which will take place on the second sol of the plan.

We managed to fit in some environmental science and a Mastcam 360°mosaic of our surrounding terrain on the first sol of the plan to provide context for our drill site, prior to the rover going to sleep in order to recharge itself for the power intensive drilling. The environmental observations include a ChemCam passive sky observation, a rear Hazcam dust devil movie, a Mastcam crater rim extinction and basic tau pointed towards the sun.

We filled a post-drill science block with geological observations. These include observations of what will hopefully be a new drill hole and associated tailings on Mars, with ChemCam passive spectroscopy and remote microscopic imaging as well as Mastcam multispectral imaging. ChemCam will also continue to investigate the variation in chemistry of the bedrock in the vicinity of the drill target, firing its laser at the "Clarkly Hill" target. Mastcam will document the ChemCam target.

Curiosity will wake up the next morning for an early morning science block with some more environmental monitoring including a Mastcam full tau pointed towards the sun, a Navcam zenith movie, suprahorizon movie, line of sight image and 360°sky survey. Standard background REMS, RAD and DAN passive measurements are also planned.

Everyone on the team will be eagerly awaiting the first downlinked data after the drill activity, to see if we have our 22nddrill hole on Mars destined for Curiosity's analytical lab. If successful, next week should see drop off of sample to CheMin and the preliminary mineralogical results, which we can compare with previous drill holes within Glen Torridon and the Murray formation.