MISSION UPDATES | September 22, 2020

Sols 2890-2891: ChemCam Trifecta!

Written by Rachel Kronyak, Planetary Geologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Black and white view of Mars

This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 2865. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

This week we are wrapping up our observations of the “Mary Anning 3” drill sample. On the first sol (Sol 2890) of today’s two-sol plan, we will perform “portion to exhaustion” (emptying the drill stem) and also empty the chamber behind the drill into a pile. This means that we will empty any remaining Mary Anning 3 sample onto the ground in front of us for assessment. We will closely document the material portioned and dumped out with Mastcam, and, later in the afternoon, take close-up MAHLI images of the dump pile. Overnight, we’ll place APXS on the dump pile to acquire geochemical information on the remaining drill material.

On the second sol (Sol 2891), we’ll have some time for remote science observations. A fun fact about the science block on Sol 2891: we will be utilizing the full capacity of our ChemCam instrument and perform a passive observation (i.e. no laser), LIBS (Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy) observations, and collect long-distance RMI (Remote Micro Imager) images – a ChemCam trifecta of sorts!

We will further characterize the Mary Anning 3 dump pile by performing Mastcam multispectral and ChemCam passive observations. We’ll then use ChemCam LIBS to assess nearby nodular bedrock target “Lunnasting” and bright target “Kleber.” We will also use ChemCam’s RMI to take a long-distance mosaic of “Housedon Hill,” a target first imaged on Sol 2880 and visible as the blocky hill in the background of the Navcam image above.

To round out the science block, we’ll take Mastcam documentation images of our LIBS targets Lunnasting and Kleber, as well as a nice big stereo mosaic to expand coverage of our surroundings. We will also perform some environmental monitoring observations with Navcam, including a line of sight image and dust devil survey. To close out our two-sol plan, we will perform a SAM Electrical Baseline Test (EBT), a routine activity to check SAM’s electrical systems.