[meteorite-list] Target on Mars Looks Good for Curiosity Rover Drilling

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 2014 15:30:46 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <201404292230.s3TMUk0R002794_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Target on Mars Looks Good for NASA Rover Drilling
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
April 29, 2014

The team operating NASA's Curiosity Mars rover plans to proceed in
coming days with the third-ever drilling into a rock on Mars to collect
a sample for analysis.

The rover used several tools to examine the candidate site over the
weekend, including a wire-bristle brush -- the Dust Removal Tool -- to
clear away dust from a patch on the rock. The target slab of sandstone
has been given the informal name "Windjana," after a gorge in Western

"In the brushed spot, we can see that the rock is fine-grained, its true
color is much grayer than the surface dust, and some portions of the
rock are harder than others, creating the interesting bumpy textures,"
said Curiosity science team member Melissa Rice of the California
Institute of Technology, Pasadena. "All of these traits reinforce our
interest in drilling here in order understand the chemistry of the
fluids that bound these grains together to form the rock."

Before Curiosity drills deeply enough for collection of rock-powder
sample, plans call for a preparatory "mini-drill" operation on the
target, as a further check for readiness.

Curiosity's hammering drill collects powdered sample material from the
interior of a rock, and then the rover prepares and delivers portions of
the sample to laboratory instruments onboard. The first two Martian
rocks drilled and analyzed this way were mudstone slabs neighboring each
other in Yellowknife Bay, about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) northeast of
the rover's current location at a waypoint called "The Kimberley." Those
two rocks yielded evidence last year of an ancient lakebed environment
with key chemical elements and a chemical energy source that provided
conditions billions of years ago favorable for microbial life.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity to assess
ancient habitable environments and major changes in Martian
environmental conditions. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division
of Caltech, built the rover and manages the project for NASA's Science
Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about Curiosity, visit http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/msl
, http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/. You can
follow the mission on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity
and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity.

Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster at jpl.nasa.gov

Received on Tue 29 Apr 2014 06:30:46 PM PDT

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