John Bridges: Mars Science Laboratory Blog
In addition to the blog, you can find some amazing videos and other content related to the mission, at:
We have now reached the first foothills in the Mt. Sharp part of the mission. This area is called the Pahrump Hills. The Navcam image shows the sort of terrain we will be driving over in the next part of the mission as we spend more time analysing and drilling the sedimentary rock outcrops compared to our current driving routine.
We are in an uneven area of terrain with sand-filled hollows so we have changed direction, out of Hidden Valley and via Trilobite Crater. The rover planners 'RP's' are cautious about slippage in sand. At a early stage in the Mars Exploration Rover's missions, in mid 2005, Opportunity became stuck with several wheels buried in the sand. It tok 6 weeks to get free, and we want to avoid that happening with Curiosity.
As we were performing a minidrill - thats the smaller test hole prior to a large full drill hole - the prongs that keep the turret and drill steady slipped by a small amount.. This caused the drilling to halt. It may be that Bonanza_King is softer than we have come across before. The drill is undamaged, but we now have to decide how to proceed and if possible get a sample.
We have started the condensed drilling procedures at Bonanza_King, having driven back out of Hidden Valley and its sandy deposits, to take another route. You can see that the brush is working and we have just exposed the now familiar grey Mars beneath the oxidised red veneer, prior to drilling. It looks like some late fluids have cut through the sediments as shown by the light veins.