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Curiosity Mars Rover: Entering Windy Season in Gale Crater

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Curiosity Left B Navigation Digital camera picture acquired on Sol 2852, August 14, 2020.
Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now drawing closure on Sol 2852 duties.

Latest photos of the “Mary Anning” drill gap, have sparked the Mars science workforce’s curiosity for each scientific and operational causes, experiences Mariah Baker, Planetary Geologist on the Middle for Earth & Planetary Research within the Smithsonian Nationwide Air & House Museum in Washington, D.C.

Photos have revealed that wind is steadily eroding the wonderful materials that initially surrounded the drill gap, offering observational proof that the robotic has once more entered the windy season in Gale crater.

“As thrilling as that is for these of us who examine wind and have been patiently awaiting the return of the windy season,” Baker provides, “it is usually vital for the operations workforce. Once we decide that wind is blowing materials round on the floor, sure steps should be taken to make sure secure and profitable information assortment.”

Curiosity Chemistry & Digital camera RMI produced on Sol 2852, August 14, 2020.
Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Dump pile

Well timed evaluation of wind exercise is particularly worthwhile when Mars researchers try to check wonderful materials that’s vulnerable to being blown away, “each as a result of wind-induced motion can impression our measurements but in addition as a result of we don’t need any materials blowing onto our devices after we put them in shut proximity to the floor,” Baker factors out.

As a significant part of a brand new plan is creating and analyzing a dump pile of wonderful drilled materials, the Mars scientists needed to fastidiously contemplate the wind situations and modify the plan accordingly.

“However a little bit wind wasn’t going to discourage us,” Baker provides. “The workforce pushed on, scheduling nearly two hours’ value of science observations aimed toward learning options each close to and much. Inside the fast workspace, efforts will concentrate on the drill gap and the dump pile that will likely be created on the primary sol of the plan.”

Curiosity Entrance Hazard Avoidance Digital camera Proper B picture taken on Sol 2852, August 14, 2020.
Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Wind-induced accumulation

The drill gap will likely be focused with the Chemistry and Digital camera’s (ChemCam) Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument and imaged with Mastcam in an effort to affirm that the laser hit the meant goal.

This Mastcam picture may even be added to the set of drill gap photos already acquired, permitting the science workforce to proceed monitoring wind exercise on the robotic’s present locale.

Equally, a single Mastcam picture of the rover deck (which is acquired commonly by the workforce) will likely be used to trace wind-induced accumulation of sand on the deck.

Distant targets

The dump pile will likely be studied with Mastcam multispectral photos, in addition to with the rover’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), however the closest-approach MAHLI photos will likely be taken with the duvet on in an effort to hold the digicam secure from wind-blown materials, Baker notes.

A ChemCam depth profile remark and Mastcam documentation picture may even be acquired on the right track “Ayton,” which is situated on the identical bedrock slab because the drill gap and dump pile.

Two distant targets additionally captured the workforce’s consideration: a light-toned space of the Vera Rubin Ridge will likely be analyzed with a Mastcam multispectral remark and a long-distance ChemCam Distant Micro-Imager (RMI), and Mount Sharp’s sulfate unit will likely be focused with a second long-distance ChemCam RMI.

Shortly-changing situations

Three rover Navcam observations aimed toward assessing mud and cloud exercise (a mud satan film, a line-of-sight picture, and a suprahorizon cloud film) have been additionally included on this giant science block. Two extra environmental observations, a Mastcam tau picture and a Navcam zenith film, have been additionally deliberate for later within the day when lighting situations have been extra optimum.

“Though uncontrollable components akin to wind can pose a further problem for rover operations,” Baker concludes, “it’s nothing we are able to’t deal with. Doing science on one other planet typically requires adapting to quickly-changing situations, and the rover workforce may be very accustomed to working round no matter is thrown – or blown – at us.”

In a single day measurement

In the meantime, Vivian Solar, a planetary geologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory additionally experiences that, over this weekend, Curiosity will concentrate on wrapping up the sequence of drill-related actions on the Mary Anning goal whereas the workforce considers in the event that they wish to drill a second location right here.

The Chemical and Mineralogy instrument, or CheMin for brief, performs chemical evaluation of powdered rock samples to establish the categories and quantities of various minerals which can be current.
Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“On sol 2853, APXS will make a protracted in a single day remark of the drill tailings, giving us an in depth take a look at the chemical composition of this rock,” Solar explains. “The subsequent day on sol 2854, CheMin may have its flip at a protracted in a single day measurement to find out the mineralogy of Mary Anning.”

Historical past of the rocks

On sol 2853, APXS will make a protracted in a single day remark of the drill tailings, giving us an in depth take a look at the chemical composition of this rock.

The subsequent day on sol 2854, the rover’s Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin) may have its flip at a protracted in a single day measurement to find out the mineralogy of Mary Anning.

“ChemCam may even make a passive remark of the pattern dump pile,” Solar says, “including to our wealthy assortment of distant sensing observations characterizing: the pre-drilled floor, the drill gap and drill tailings, and now the dump pile. The in depth documentation that we do in all drill campaigns, involving each arm and mast devices to check the drill gap and surrounding setting, goes a good distance in serving to scientists perceive the historical past of those rocks and the way they shaped.”



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