Curiosity Rover prepares for drilling at new site

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  • Published: Apr 28, 2014
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Proteomics / Chemometrics & Informatics

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The Curiosity rover is selecting its next drill site on Mars, following a long hike in the direction of Mount Sharp, its final destination.

A relatively quiet period for the Curiosity rover on Mars is about to end with its arrival at a new potential drill site. It has travelled a total of 3.8 miles since landing in Gale Crater in August 2012 and has now reached an area named Kimberley that was named after the region of Western Australia. NASA scientists plan an extensive study of rocks in this area, matching its efforts in 2013 at Yellowknife Bay where it tested the first ever rock samples drilled on Mars and found the signature of an ancient lakebed environment “providing chemical ingredients and energy necessary for life.”

The next step will be to examine the rock types at Kimberley and select suitable drilling locations using the onboard camera, X-ray spectrometer and laser spectrometer. Continuing the Antipodean theme, the principal target has been named Windjana, after a gorge also in Western Australia.

“We want to learn more about the wet process that turned sand deposits into sandstone here,” said Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger from CalTech. “What was the composition of the fluids that bound the grains together? That aqueous chemistry is part of the habitability story we’re investigating.”

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