[meteorite-list] NASA Curiosity Rover Team Selects Second Drilling Target on Mars
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 9 May 2013 15:19:31 -0700 (PDT)
May 9, 2013
dwayne.c.brown at nasa.gov
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster at jpl.nasa.gov
NASA CURIOSITY ROVER TEAM SELECTS SECOND DRILLING TARGET ON MARS
PASADENA, Calif. -- The team operating NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on
Mars has selected a second target rock for drilling and sampling. The
rover will set course to the drilling location in coming days.
This second drilling target, called "Cumberland," lies about nine feet
(2.75 meters) west of the rock where Curiosity's drill first touched
Martian stone in February. Curiosity took the first rock sample ever
collected on Mars from that rock, called "John Klein." The rover
found evidence of an ancient environment favorable for microbial
life. Both rocks are flat, with pale veins and a bumpy surface. They
are embedded in a layer of rock on the floor of a shallow depression
called "Yellowknife Bay."
This second drilling is intended to confirm results from the first
drilling, which indicated the chemistry of the first powdered sample
from John Klein was much less oxidizing than that of a soil sample
the rover scooped up before it began drilling.
"We know there is some cross-contamination from the previous sample
each time," said Dawn Sumner, a long-term planner for Curiosity's
science team at the University of California at Davis. "For the
Cumberland sample, we expect to have most of that cross-contamination
come from a similar rock, rather than from very different soil."
Although Cumberland and John Klein are very similar, Cumberland
appears to have more of the erosion-resistant granules that cause the
surface bumps. The bumps are concretions, or clumps of minerals,
which formed when water soaked the rock long ago. Analysis of a
sample containing more material from these concretions could provide
information about the variability within the rock layer that includes
both John Klein and Cumberland.
Mission engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in
Pasadena, Calif., recently finished upgrading Curiosity's operating
software following a four-week break. The rover continued monitoring
the Martian atmosphere during the break but the team did not send any
new commands because Mars and the sun were positioned in such a way
the sun could have blocked or corrupted commands sent from Earth.
Curiosity is about nine months into a two-year prime mission since
landing inside Gale Crater on Mars. After the second rock drilling in
Yellowknife Bay and a few other investigations nearby, the rover will
drive toward the base of Mount Sharp, a 3-mile (5-kilometer) tall
layered mountain inside the crater.
JPL manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project, of which Curiosity is
the centerpiece, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in
For more information about the mission, visit:
To follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter, visit:
Received on Thu 09 May 2013 06:19:31 PM PDT