[meteorite-list] Mars Rover Team Chooses Not to Drill 'Bonanza King'

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 2014 13:26:44 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <201408222026.s7MKQiiB001066_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Mars Rover Team Chooses Not to Drill 'Bonanza King'
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
August 22, 2014

Evaluation of a pale, flat Martian rock as the potential next drilling
target for NASA's Curiosity Mars rover determined that the rock was not
stable enough for safe drilling.

The rock, called "Bonanza King," moved slightly during the mini-drill
activity on Wednesday, at an early stage of this test, when the
percussion drill impacted the rock a few times to make an indentation.

Instead of drilling that or any similar rock nearby, the team has
decided that Curiosity will resume driving toward its long-term
destination on the slopes of a layered mountain. It will take a route
skirting the north side of a sandy-floored valley where it turned around
two weeks ago.

"We have decided that the rocks under consideration for drilling, based
on the tests we did, are not good candidates for drilling," said
Curiosity Project Manager Jim Erickson of NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "Instead of drilling here, we will
resume driving toward Mount Sharp."

After the rover team chooses a candidate drilling target, the target is
subjected to several tests to check whether it meets criteria for
collecting a drilled sample without undue risk to rover hardware. The
mission's previous three drilling targets, all at more extensive
outcrops, met those criteria.

Bonanza King is on the northeastern end of "Hidden Valley." Earlier this
month, Curiosity began driving through the valley, but the rover slipped
in the sand more than anticipated.

"After further analysis of the sand, Hidden Valley does not appear to be
navigable with the desired degree of confidence," Erickson said. "We
will use a route avoiding the worst of the sharp rocks as we drive
slightly to the north of Hidden Valley."

The rover has driven about 5.5 miles (8.8 kilometers) since landing
inside Gale Crater in August 2012, and has about 2 miles (3 kilometers)
remaining to reach an entry point to the slopes of Mount Sharp, in the
middle of the crater.

The mission made important discoveries near its landing site during its
first year by finding evidence of ancient lake and river environments.
The rover's findings indicated that those environments would have
provided favorable conditions for microbes to live. NASA's Mars Science
Laboratory Project continues to use Curiosity to assess ancient
habitable environments and major changes in Martian environmental
conditions. The destinations on Mount Sharp offer a series of layers
that recorded different chapters in the environmental evolution of early

JPL, 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:



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Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster at jpl.nasa.gov

Received on Fri 22 Aug 2014 04:26:44 PM PDT

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