MISSION UPDATES | September 13, 2021

Sols 3238-3239: SAM, What Do You Think?

Written by Lauren Edgar, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center
This is a black and white image of hills and miniature sand dunes. The surface of Mars is rocky.

This image was taken by Right Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3225. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Curiosity is working her way through a busy drill campaign at the Maria Gordon location and keeping her eyes on the beautiful cliffs nearby. Unfortunately the weekend plan didn’t uplink to the rover due to a DSN issue, so that means that today’s two-sol plan was devoted to recovering those activities. CheMin got to analyze the drill sample last week, so now it’s SAM’s turn. The main activities in today’s plan are the drop-off to SAM and Evolved Gas Analysis. CheMin will also dump the sample to clear out the cell for future use. The science team planned a lot of targeted remote sensing observations, including a ChemCam observation down the drill hole, multiple Mastcam mosaics to investigate nearby stratigraphy and nodule-rich areas, another ChemCam observation of a delicious target named “Chocolate Bloc” and a lot of environmental monitoring activities to monitor dust and clouds and search for dust devils. I was on shift as Long Term Planner today, so I was busy revising our sol path to respond to changes and think about multiple options for the rest of this week depending on the results of the SAM experiment. Can’t wait to find out what SAM thinks of the Maria Gordon sample!