Hey all! It’s a new year, a new day, but hopefully, there’s still some holiday cheer to go around! And in that spirit, I thought I’d share some news which came in over the holidays concerning Curiosity’s mission to Mars. For the rover, Christmas was celebrated at a location dubbed “Grandmas House”. Well, technically it spent it at Sol 130, a designated point in an area known as “Yellowknife Bay”. This area is a small depression located in the geographic region known as Glenelg, some 400 meters from “Bradbury Landing” where it first put down.
It is in Yellowknife Bay that Curiosity has been engaged in searching for its first target site to drill for a rock sample. The purpose of this to test out the rover’s high powered hammering drill, a test which has been put off because the Mars Science Team feared that the rock samples at other locations were not optimal. But the Glenelg area – which lies at the junction of three different types of geologic terrain – features a different type of geologic terrain compared to what Curiosity has driven on previously.
While there, Curiosity snapped a series of panoramic pictures of the area, which NASA compiled into the photos seen here and at the top. The rover also used its the APXS X-ray mineral spectrometer, ChemCam laser and MAHLI hand lens imager to gather initial science characterization data on the region and its rocky outcroppings. As you can plainly see, Yellowknife Bay was aptly named, being quite similar in appearance to its namesake here on Earth.
Hard to say what Curiosity will find once its begins drilling, but NASA is sure to be raving about it, either way. Everyone knows those Mars Science Laboratory people can’t keep anything a secret, even when they’re not sure they’ve got anything. Yes, MSL, that was a veiled reference to that “Earthshaking news” story you got us all excited about. And to answer you’re next question, no, I haven’t gotten over it yet. Can’t you tell?