Sols 2170-71, September 13, 2018, update by MSL scientist Catherine O’Connell: In our previous plan, we assessed the suitability of the Inverness target for drilling. We used APXS to determine if it fell within the required geochemical parameters, first brushing to remove excess dust and then using curium to irradiate the target and acquire whole-rock geochemical data. Curiosity also did a series of “stress tests” to test the integrity of the target, and check whether it would be strong enough to withstand our percussive drill technique without shattering. At the beginning of today’s planning, we received data which confirmed that Inverness had passed our tests. Drilling begins tomorrow (sol 2170) on what will hopefully be our 18th successful drill hole in Gale crater!
If successful, the resulting sample will be processed internally by CheMin (to assess mineralogical composition) and possibly SAM (to look for chemical signatures). The remaining collected drill sample will be dumped at a later date, so MAHLI will take imagery of potential dump locations on sol 2170 to help with later analysis. A pile of “tailings” will also be generated around the drill hole by the drilling activity. These tailings will be analyzed by ChemCam, APXS and MAHLI in the coming weeks – Mastcam will acquire images of the drill-hole and multispectral images on the tailings on sol 2171… [More at link]