6 April 2019

Sol 2368: Let the Drilling Proceed!

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Today marks the conclusion of the MSL Science Team Meeting currently taking place at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. These meetings are where scientists and engineers can come together to discuss the ongoing activities associated with the Curiosity rover. They’re always productive opportunities to discuss strategies for analyzing previously collected data as well as strategies for investigating the terrain ahead of the rover.

After significant discussion among the science team as well as analysis of the compositional data that came down overnight from both the APXS and ChemCam instruments, the team has decided to proceed with drilling the Aberlady target. The additional compositional analyses confirmed that the composition of this target looks comparable to other targets within the clay-bearing unit. So, with the team coming to this consensus, today marks the planning of Day 1 of our typical drill cadence, complete with a pre-load drill test to monitor and examine the drill’s performance prior to actual drilling into the target. These activities are preceded by a 1.5 hour science block, which will focus primarily on additional ChemCam compositional analyses and Mastcam color and multispectral imaging of the workspace. In the late afternoon, APXS will begin a series of two integrations that will last well into the early morning hours. However, instead of placing the sensor head on the martian surface to investigate the compositions of rocks and sediments, APXS will turn her sensor skywards to measure seasonal changes in atmospheric argon. These activities will set us up nicely to continue with the drill campaign, hopefully resulting in a full drill effort sometime this weekend.

Written by Mark Salvatore, Planetary Geologist at University of Michigan