Astrogeology Science Center

Sol 721 on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ryan Anderson: Bonanza King

16 August 2014

We’re gearing up for our fourth drill hole on Mars! For the sol 721 plan, we have a long block of time dedicated thoroughly analyzing the drill target Bonanza King. During this block, we will analyze 25 points on the target with ChemCam in a 5x5 grid, and follow up with Mastcam images of Bonanza King using multiple different filters (we call images like this that use multiple different filters multispectral images). Mastcam will also take multispectral images of targets Millers Spring and Smokey, plus a mosaic of the south wall of Hidden Valley to cover an area that previous mosaics did not.

Sol 722 will be dedicated to contact science on the drill target, with MAHLI images and APXS measurements. The rover will also collect data to make sure that it is in a stable location for drilling, brush the drill target, and test placing the drill on the target and pre-loading it. Pre-loading is another term for “pushing” and is necessary for the drill to work: If you have ever done home improvements and had to drill into wood, you know that you have to push to get the drill bit to bite into the wood. The same idea applies to Curiosity’s drill, and we do the pre-load test to make sure the target doesn’t move when the rover pushes on it.

After the complicated sol 721 and 722 plans, sol 723 will be a simple sol with just some environmental monitoring.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.