16 July 2018

Sol 2113: Hard as a rock

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Unfortunately, we found out this morning that the ‘Voyageurs’ drill target was a much harder rock than expected. While our drill plan executed perfectly, our bit stopped short of the full depth we need for sampling. The engineers are still evaluating the data to better understand the target. I had a busy morning as SOWG Chair, as the team had to come up with a new plan for today while thinking about our longer-term strategy. Ultimately, we decided to focus on contact science and documenting the mini drill hole in today’s plan.

The plan kicks off with several Navcam observations to monitor atmospheric opacity during the ongoing dust storm. Then we’ll take several Mastcam change detection observations to characterize the movement of sand, followed by several ChemCam observations to assess the diversity of color and composition in the bedrock here. We’ll also take a ChemCam RMI image of the ‘Voyageurs’ target, which will help with targeting the drill hole with ChemCam in tomorrow’s plan. The afternoon includes a few more environmental monitoring activities, including a Navcam line-of-sight image, Mastcam tau, and crater rim extinction observation. Then Curiosity will image the drill chuck, drill bit, and turret, to monitor our tools. In the evening, we’ll acquire an APXS integration on the drill tailings, and overnight we’ll get a longer APXS integration on the drill hole. Today is a reminder that it’s hard to operate a rover and drill on another planet, but I’m hopeful that we’ll find a way to sample this part of the ridge!

Written by Lauren Edgar, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center