4 October 2015

Sols 1123-1125: Drill hole and tailings

Posted by Ryan Anderson

This composite image looking toward the higher regions of Mount Sharp was taken on September 9, 2015, by NASA’s Curiosity rover. In the foreground — about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the rover — is a long ridge teeming with hematite, an iron oxide. Just beyond is an undulating plain rich in clay minerals. And just beyond that are a multitude of rounded buttes, all high in sulfate minerals. The changing mineralogy in these layers of Mount Sharp suggests a changing environment in early Mars, though all involve exposure to water billions of years ago. The Curiosity team hopes to be able to explore these diverse areas in the months and years ahead. Further back in the image are striking, light-toned cliffs in rock that may have formed in drier times and now is heavily eroded by winds. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


The weekend plan includes lots of arm activities and science.  First, on Sol 1123, ChemCam and Mastcam will observe the drill hole and tailings, plus targets named “Frontier,” “Floweree,” “Bozeman,” and “Billings.” Then the portion of the sample that has not been sieved will be dumped on the ground and examined by Mastcam.  After dusk, MAHLI will use its LEDs to look inside of the drill hole and image the drill tailings and CheMin inlet, then APXS will be placed over the tailings for an overnight measurement.  Late in the afternoon of Sol 1124, MAHLI will image the pre-sieve dump pile and APXS placed over it for another overnight integration.

A SAM atmospheric methane measurement was added early on Sol 1125 because Mars is expected to encounter some cometary debris, a possible source of the elevated methane concentration that has occasionally been observed.  After all those activities, the rover will sleep through most of Sol 1125 to recharge its batteries in preparation for Sol 1126.

by Ken Herkenhoff

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.