MISSION UPDATES | January 20, 2023

Sols 3718-3720: Go For Drilling at Encanto

Written by Lauren Edgar, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center
ASA's Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image of a rock face using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on January 19, 2023, Sol 3716 of the mission.

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm, on January 19, 2023, Sol 3716 of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS. Download image ›

In the previous plan, Curiosity conducted a preliminary assessment of the potential drill target “Encanto” (as seen in the above MAHLI image) and today we received the data. The drill preload test and contact science data look good, so we are GO for our third attempt to get a sample of this marker band.

Today’s 3-sol plan includes the full drill on the first sol, followed by portion characterization on the second sol, and some remote sensing activities. The team planned ChemCam LIBS on two bedrock targets named “Macucuau” and “Marahuaca” to look for variations in chemistry, as well as a long distance RMI mosaic to evaluate some nodular beds in the nearby cliffs. ChemCam will also acquire RMI images of the drill hole to help with targeting in the next plan, and passive spectra on the drill tailings. The plan also includes Mastcam imaging of the “Encanto” block to look for changes before and after drilling, plus Mastcam multispectral observations of the drill tailings and a target named “Cacao” to investigate some dark gray float rocks. Curiosity will also be busy looking at the sky, with a number of activities to look for potential noctilucent clouds at twilight, monitor dust in the atmosphere, and search for dust devils.

Hopefully the third time is the charm, and we look forward to seeing results from drilling at “Encanto!”