MISSION UPDATES | October 21, 2020

Sols 2919-2920: Penultimate Plan

Written by Michelle Minitti, Planetary Geologist at Framework
A black and white view of Mars

This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 2904. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

We are in the homestretch of our time at the “Mary Anning” and “Groken” drill sites, and today’s plan checks off some of the final important boxes to complete our analyses here before we head back uphill. With sample delivered to SAM, we will clear the remaining sample out of the drill and have a look at the discarded sample with MAHLI and APXS. The chemistry of the Groken drill sample from APXS will be combined with the mineralogy determined by CheMin and the volatile contents determined by SAM to build a comprehensive picture of the origin and history of this part of "Gale Crater." MAHLI will also look at the Groken drill hole tailings, which have been somewhat scattered by the wind since we created them on Sol 2910.

We will also look around and beyond the drill target with our remote sensing instruments. ChemCam will acquire chemistry from the target “Vord,” a clean, broken surface exposed during the drill activity. We do not often get such new, dust-free surfaces on Mars so we like to take advantage of clean looks at their chemistry and texture. ChemCam will add to the extensive, spectacular collection of RMI images of the “Housedon Hill” area east of the rover, which reveal a real wonderland of geology within Mount Sharp. Mastcam and Navcam will combine forces to measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere, and look for dust devils and clouds. The steady gazes of DAN, RAD and REMS remain fixed on the skies above us and subsurface below us as the other instruments do their work, continuing to build their records of the environment in Gale crater.