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There's a full transcript of this video report out in the tall grass.

This report is already more than a week old, so it seems like news about the 1st drill test should break any day now.

Here is a brief recap of the mission so far. After a circus act arrival at Bradbury Landing in August, NASA's plucky Mars rover has gradually traversed thousands of meters of rugged terrain while moving toward the most interesting local geologic feature nearby, as seen from our orbiting observatory. Along the way the team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have unlimbered, cleaned and tested the remarkable array of optical, analytical, mechanical and other robotic features on NASA's car sized, largest ever Martian Rover. After fortuitously landing on and discovering an ancient riverbed, the first ever discovered on another planet, the Mars Science Laboratory has fully observed and measured the appearance, chemistry and mineralogy, radiology, weather and virtually every other imaginable measurable feature of the rover's surroundings every step along the way.

At the intersecting of different geological features originally called Glenelg by NASA, the rover has descended into an area provocatively named Yellowknife Bay, possibly part of the shore of some ancient Martian lake or sea. A large veined rock is the target of the drill which can examine deep into the rock's interior.

We are about to learn a lot more about what was happening on Mars when her surface bore liquid water.

For all of my Mars diaries and all things Mars on Daily Kos go to Kossacks on Mars.


Hi. I am Justin Maki and I am the Engineering Camera Team Lead on the Mars Science Laboratory Mission and a member of the MSL Science Camera Team, and this is your Curiosity Rover Report. .  

The Rover has been investigating the Yellowknife Bay area as part of an effort to pick the exact location of our first drill activity on Mars. The images being returned by Curiosity show a diverse collection of interesting features including sedimentary rocks, pebbles, cracks, nodules and veins.

The vein features are seen as a bright white material and we see them just about everywhere we look in Yellowknife Bay. The ChemCam instrument has found that these veins contain elevated levels of calcium sulfate, likely in the form of bassenite or gypsum. Gypsum veins are also seen here on Earth are are associated with water percolating through cracks in fractured rocks.

The exciting news from all of this analysis is a candidate site where Curisoity will conduct its first drilling activity. This site is located only a few meters away from the rover's current location and lies in a flat area suitable for drilling. The team hopes to drill directly into one of the veins, place t he powder into the SAM and CheMin analytical instruments. These instruments will give us detailed information about the composition of the material. We'll be driving over there in the next few days. On our way over to the drill site, we're planning on using the rover's wheels to crush some of the nearby veins and examine the freshly broken material. This image from Sol 135 shows an example of how the rover can break open soft rocks with its wheels, revealing the freshly exposed material

I'm Justin Maki and this has been your Curiosity Rover Report. Check back for more reports.

Originally posted to Kossacks on Mars on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 03:05 PM PST.

Also republished by Astro Kos and SciTech.

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