5 March 2018

Sol 1984: Searching for Softer Pastures

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Vera Rubin Ridge is as hard as a rock! After two drilling attempts, Curiosity’s drill was not able to dig into the bedrock sufficiently to collect a sample of rock at this location. Curiosity’s engineers are continuing to refine the new drilling method. In the future, this might include adding percussion, which could enable drilling into harder rock. After learning this, the science team planned a series of Mastcam and ChemCam ‘passive’ and LIBS observations of the attempted drill hole at ‘Lake Orcadie 2’ (covered up by the turret in this image) in addition to contact science on the drill ‘tailings’ (the powdered bits of rock ground up by the drill) with MAHLI and APXS. A ChemCam passive observation uses the instrument’s ability to detect different wavelengths of light to get a sense of a rock’s composition without using the laser to vaporize tiny bits of the rock surface. The team also planned another trick with ChemCam: long-distance image sequences of Peace Vallis on the far side of Gale Crater and a portion of the clay unit that represents part of Curiosity’s future agenda.

Written by Scott Guzewich, Atmospheric Scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center