MISSION UPDATES | January 23, 2023

Sol 3721: Wrapping up at the Encanto Drill Site

Written by Sharon Wilson, Planetary Geologist at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
This image of a hole in the soil was taken by Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3720.

This image was taken by Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3720. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL. Download image ›

Despite giving it the “old college try,” Curiosity’s attempt to drill into the Marker Band at the “Encanto” site did not reach sampling depth. Because other rocks around the rover look similar to “Encanto” and are likely also too hard to drill, the Science Team decided to convert the plan to a “Touch and Go.”

Although the Science Team is disappointed to leave this Marker Band location without a sample, Curiosity will use MAHLI, APXS, and ChemCam LIBS to analyze the chemistry and texture of the shallow “Encanto” drill hole and tailings, targeting the intriguing light-toned material exposed in the wall of the drill hole. We may see another location in the Marker Band worth sampling in the near future, but even if we don’t, there will certainly be many more exciting drilling opportunities to look forward to as Curiosity continues her climb up Mt. Sharp!

In addition to a ~25 meter drive to the south on Sol 3721, Mastcam will take an image of the “Cacao” target to document the terrain in the direction that the rover is driving as well as a multispectral image of “Cana Dulce,” a dark-toned rock that is perched on the surface of the Marker Band. Curiosity will round out the sol by observing the sky and looking for dust devils.