Nach 8 Jahren: Curiosity Rover führt erstmals ein spezielles Experiment durch, um nach Beweisen für das Leben auf dem Mars zu suchen

This image was taken by Right Navigation Camera onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 2878. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2883 duties.

Reports Ryan Anderson, Planetary Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona:

“Our [Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite] TMAH experiment was successful! For those who don’t speak fluent rover team alphabet soup, as we described the other day, the SAM TMAH experiment is a long-awaited measurement by the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument, which uses a special chemical called tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH) to help identify organic (carbon-bearing) molecules in the sample.”

Spannende und interessante Zeiten für Astrobiologen: Mars, Venus, Probenrückführung von Asteroiden. An Arbeit mangelt es nicht.

Christian Dauck

Awaiting results

Anderson notes that SAM only has two containers of TMAH, “so we wanted to be very sure that this was the right place to use one of them before running the experiment. The team is now eagerly awaiting results which will take us several months to fully interpret.”

Meanwhile, rover operations carried out a busy weekend plan.

The rover’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) was slated to do an atmospheric observation as the European Space Agency’s Trace Gas Orbiter flew overhead, followed by a long-distance image mosaic of a target called “Housedon Hill.”

Looking for dust

The robot’s Navcam was scheduled to look toward the crater rim to measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere and look for dust devils. Mastcam also had a dust-measuring observation of the sun in the weekend plan.

On Sol 2881 SAM was slated to clean out its gas chromatograph (GC) column (the tiny tube through which gases are passed to separate them based on their chemistry), and then on Sol 2882 the plan called for a recurring set of Navcam and Mastcam observations of the target “Le Ceasnachadh” at different times of day.

“These repeated

bservations allow us to better understand the ‘photometry’ or light-scattering behavior of the rocks,” Anderson explains.

Drill tailings

On Sol 2882, the rover’s Mastcam was to observe the target “Upper Ollach” and the Mary Anning drill tailings to look for any changes, and the robot was to perform a multispectral observation of the photometry target “Le Ceasnachadh”.

ChemCam was on tap to also observe that target using passive spectroscopy (no laser, just reflected light).

On Sol 2883, Curiosity is to perform early morning atmospheric observations, measuring dust with Navcam and Mastcam and watching for clouds with Navcam.

As always, dates of planned rover activities are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2886 tasks.

Reports Michelle Minitti, a planetary geologist at Framework in Silver Spring, Maryland: Based on the initial results from the recent Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) wet chemistry experiment, the SAM team elected to complement it with a second wet chemistry experiment on the “Mary Anning 3” drill sample.

The first experiment was run with the reagent tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH), and the second will be run with the reagent N-methyl-N-(tert-butyldimethylsilyl)trifluoroacetamide (MTBSTFA).

Fuller picture

“These are called wet chemistry experiments because SAM adds a liquid reagent to the sample before they analyze it,” Minitti explains. “Each reagent reacts differently with the sample, so each experiment shines a slightly different light on what carbon-bearing compounds lie within the sample. Together, we get a fuller picture of the chemistry of the Mary Anning sample.”

The SAM experiment is involved enough that it requires a dedicated sol in the plan, Minitti continues, but the second sol of the plan [2885-2886] was available for other observations.

Coherent bedrock

The robot’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) targeted two cobbles, “Quoy” and “Skor,” which are similar to larger rock fragments, to compare their chemistries to that of the coherent bedrock slabs in this area.

“ChemCam also targeted a white patch, “Lealt,” which resembles the white vein materials we have encountered in so much of our exploration of Gale crater,” Minitti adds.

Gray bulbous materials

Mars scientists have once again targeted “Le Ceasnachadh” for a ChemCam passive observation. The gray bulbous materials that dot the top of this target are hard to hit when researchers are aiming from more than 16 feet (5 meters) away, so they hope to land a few more points on these features in this effort.

Minitti also notes that Curiosity’s Navcam is slated to scan the skies above for clouds and dust devils, and will measure the dust load in the atmosphere.

Lastly, the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), the Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) and Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) keep their regular watch on the environment around and below the rover throughout the recently formulated plan, Minitti concludes.

Dates of planned rover activities are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.