MISSION UPDATES | August 27, 2021

Sols 3221-3223: Resisting Temptation!

Written by Catherine O'Connell-Cooper, Planetary Geologist at University of New Brunswick
This is a black and white right navigation camera image of Temptation Hill. There are large boulders embedded on the sandy hill. There are other smaller hills in the background.

This is a right navigation camera image of Temptation Hill. It was taken by Right Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3219. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Recent workspaces have featured two types of textures – one smooth, one rougher with small nodules or grains apparent. In the last plan, APXS and MAHLI investigated the rougher material in the target "Smailholm," so today we will brush and analyze the smoother material in the target "Saltopus" with APXS, MAHLI and Mastcam. ChemCam will shoot the LIBS laser at Saltopus, and an example of the smoother material at "Stainton."

Mastcam will image the appropriately named "Temptation Hill," the base of which is peppered with large "popcorn" nodules, large enough to be visible in the image above. These are just out of reach, tempting us to swing over that way and spend some time there, but we are on a tight deadline, with our next drill campaign starting – so images will have to suffice!

Curiosity has a mission guideline to drill roughly every 25 metres of elevation gain. Our last drill campaign was just six weeks ago, when we drilled at Pontours on sol 3170, but this weekend’s plan sees us gearing up to drill again, since we are now 25 metres higher. This weekend’s plan marks the first sol ("sol Zero") of this drill campaign, as we get ourselves into position over the desired bedrock target. We are driving a short 15 metres to some promising looking bedrock, whose chemical composition and physical properties will be assessed in the next plan to make sure we can safely drill our thirty-third hole on Mars!