Mars Rover Curiosity snapped the first night photos ever taken on Mars. While some of the science team planned for the Rover's first use of its sampling drill, others photographed a variety of Martian rocks, including a day/night view.
Curiosity will take its first drill sample sometime in the next week or so. Drilling will expose for analysis materials that have not been in direct contact with the outer environment, and are, therefore, not contaminated by it. A drilling site, named John Klein by the science crew, was selected January 10. Since then, the rover has been moving about the vicinity of the drill site, while her operating crew directs her to take photographs and perform preparatory functions with various pieces of equipment. Preparation is crucial. There is no turn-by-turn direct instruction of the Rover, because it's a twelve minute data lag away. It's not possible to make immediate corrections... the effort has to be right the first time.
"John Klein" Drilling Site (Annotated) Credit: NASA--JPL
As part of the process of photographing the vicinity of the drill site, Mars Rover Curiosity took night photos of a rock called Sayunei under white and ultraviolet light, after she scuffed the surface with a wheel to expose rock surface beneath the ever present dust. These were the first night photos taken on the surface of Mars. The ultraviolet lighting was intended to expose any possible fluorescing minerals at the rock surface. The photos were taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager, or MAHLI, at the end of the rover's robot arm. MAHLI has several LED clusters and a focusable lens, making it the best choice for this task.
First night Photos from Mars - Ultraviolet and White Light -- Credit: NASA-JPL