MISSION UPDATES | July 27, 2020

Sols 2836-2837: Looking for 'Dinosaur Bones'

Written by Fred Calef, Planetary Geologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
the APXS instrument on the "Mary Anning" target.

The APXS instrument on the "Mary Anning" target. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

A little inside joke among rover scientists, going back to previous rover missions, is the refrain "well, if we see a dinosaur bone, we'll stick around." While, sadly, there is (checks notes) zero chance of finding dinosaur bones on Mars, our search for Martian organics is something we're here to do! Following in the footsteps of the renowned paleontologist Mary Anning, we've been scouring the outcrop, like she did at the limestone and shale "Blue Lias" cliffs in England, and today will crack the outcrop with our 'rock hammer' (drill) and see what mysteries are captured within. As "Keeper of the Maps," I also get to add a dot on our drill targets map, which always makes my day.

After a short discussion about the results from our weekend observation on the target "Mary Anning," the science team concurred that this place is geologically similar to the "Glen Etive" drill location, and would be suitable for our next drilled sample. To help characterize the pre-drill surface, we'll take a full multispectral Mastcam image of the Mary Anning, as well as a ChemCam Z-stack and 5x1 observation. Two additional targets, "Ayton" and "Carriden," will be observed with ChemCam and Mastcam to characterize the outcrop. We'll also expand the Mastcam color imaging of the workspace in front of the rover, document two Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science (AEGIS) targets with Mastcam, and a MARDI image of the surface.

During today's science planning, Curiosity rover geologist Dr. Rebecca Williams said, "We're drilling on Mars and launching to the red planet this week. It's all very exciting!" I can't agree more! When the new rover images come down tomorrow, I hope you find some exciting things in them. And if you see a plesiosaur tail or pterosaur wing-tip, please let us know.