Mars rover Curiosity wrapping up waypoint work

May 19, 2014
The Mars Hand Lens Imager on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover provided this nighttime view of a hole produced by the rover's drill and, inside the hole, a line of scars produced by the rover's rock-zapping laser. The camera used its own white-light LEDs to illuminate the scene on May 13, 2014. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

(Phys.org) —Portions of powdered rock collected by drilling into a sandstone target last week have been delivered to laboratory instruments inside NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, and the rover will soon drive on toward its long-term destination on a mountain slope.

Other instruments on the rover have inspected the rock's interior exposed in the hole and in drill cuttings heaped around the hole. The target rock, "Windjana," is a sandstone slab within a science waypoint area called "The Kimberley."

The camera and spectrometer at the end of Curiosity's robotic arm examined the texture and composition of the cuttings. The instrument that fires a laser from atop the rover's mast zapped a series of points inside the hole with sharpshooter accuracy.

The rover team has decided not to drill any other rock target at this waypoint. In coming days, Curiosity will resume driving toward Mount Sharp, the layered mountain at the middle of Mars' Gale Crater. The is carrying with it some of the powdered sample material from Windjana that can be delivered for additional internal laboratory analysis during pauses in the drive.

Lens Imager (MAHLI) in NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover shows the rock target "Windjana" and its immediate surroundings after inspection of the site by the rover by drilling and other activities. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The mission's two previous rock-drilling sites, at mudstone targets, yielded evidence last year of an ancient lakebed environment with key chemical elements and a chemical energy source that long ago provided conditions favorable for microbial life.

Explore further: NASA's Curiosity rover drills sandstone slab on Mars

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Image: Mars rover Curiosity scoping out next study area

Apr 04, 2014

(Phys.org) —On Wednesday, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover drove the last 98 feet feet (30 meters) needed to arrive at a site planned since early 2013 as a destination for studying rock clues about ancient environments ...

Recommended for you

NASA Webb's heart survives deep freeze test

9 hours ago

After 116 days of being subjected to extremely frigid temperatures like that in space, the heart of the James Webb Space Telescope, the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) and its sensitive instruments, ...

Cosmic rays threaten future deep-space astronaut missions

14 hours ago

Crewed missions to Mars remain an essential goal for NASA, but scientists are only now beginning to understand and characterize the radiation hazards that could make such ventures risky, concludes a new paper ...

MAVEN studies passing comet and its effects

16 hours ago

NASA's newest orbiter at Mars, MAVEN, took precautions to avoid harm from a dust-spewing comet that flew near Mars today and is studying the flyby's effects on the Red Planet's atmosphere.

How to safely enjoy the October 23 partial solar eclipse

16 hours ago

2014 – a year rich in eclipses. The Moon dutifully slid into Earth's shadow in April and October gifting us with two total lunars. Now it's the Sun's turn. This Thursday October 23 skywatchers across much ...

How to grip an asteroid

17 hours ago

For someone like Edward Fouad, a junior at Caltech who has always been interested in robotics and mechanical engineering, it was an ideal project: help develop robotic technology that could one day fly on ...

User comments : 0