[meteorite-list] NASA's Curiosity Rover Drills Sandstone Slab on Mars

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Tue, 6 May 2014 12:38:12 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <201405061938.s46JcCTj022766_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


NASA's Curiosity Rover Drills Sandstone Slab on Mars
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
May 06, 2014

Portions of rock powder collected by the hammering drill on NASA's Curiosity
Mars rover from a slab of Martian sandstone will be delivered to the rover's
internal instruments.

Rover team members at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.,
received confirmation early today (Tuesday) of Curiosity's third successful
acquisition of a drilled rock sample, following the drilling Monday evening
(PDT). The fresh hole in the rock target "Windjana," visible in images
from the rover, is 0.63 inch (1.6 centimeters) in diameter and about 2.6
inches (6.5 centimeters) deep.

The full-depth hole for sample collection is close to a shallower test
hole drilled last week in the same rock, which gave researchers a preview
of the interior material as tailings around the hole.

"The drill tailings from this rock are darker-toned and less red than
we saw at the two previous drill sites," said Jim Bell of Arizona State
University, Tempe, deputy principal investigator for Curiosity's Mast
Camera (Mastcam). "This suggests that the detailed chemical and mineral
analysis that will be coming from Curiosity's other instruments could
reveal different materials than we've seen before. We can't wait to find

The mission's two previous rock-drilling sites, at mudstone targets in
the Yellowknife Bay area, 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. The rover's
current location is at a waypoint called "The Kimberley," about 2.5 miles
(4 kilometers) southwest of Yellowknife Bay, and along the route toward
the mission's long-term destination on lower slopes of Mount Sharp.

Sample material from Windjana will be sieved, then delivered in coming
days to onboard laboratories for determining the mineral and chemical
composition: the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument (CheMin) and the
Sample Analysis at Mars instrument (SAM). The analysis of the sample may
continue as the rover drives on from The Kimberley toward Mount Sharp.
One motive for the team's selection of Windjana for drilling is to analyze
the cementing material that holds together sand-size grains in this sandstone.

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 06 May 2014 03:38:12 PM PDT

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