Curiosity Front Hazcam Left A image taken on Sol 2312, February 6, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2313 tasks.

“Curiosity is cruising through the clay-bearing unit on some compacted clast-rich soil,” reports Scott Guzewich, an atmospheric scientist and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “It’s some of the best driving terrain we’ve encountered in Gale Crater, with just some occasional sandy patches in the lee of small ridges.”

Curiosity Rear Hazcam Right A photo acquired on Sol 2312, February 6, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Guzewich adds that the rover’s route will take it northward along the east and south flank of the Vera Rubin Ridge toward an anticipated first drilling stop in the clay-bearing unit.

Touch and go

“Along the way, we’re stopping regularly for ‘touch-and-go’ contact science,” Guzewich notes. “Given the lack of even modest size rocks or bedrock outcrops nearby, we targeted a small soil patch termed ‘Alba.’”

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 2311, February 5, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Also planned is use of the robot’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam and Mastcam to interrogate the area around Alba, in addition to some geologic targets both near and far.

Curiosity Mastcam Right image acquired on Sol 2311, February 5, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Eyeing Mt. Sharp

“Now that we’re driving along the edge of the Vera Rubin Ridge, it blocks our view of the dune fields to the north and west that were our preferred targets for observing dust devils,” Guzewich points out. On the plan is a look toward Mt. Sharp (toward the east-southeast) with a long-duration dust devil movie to see if that area may also be conducive to dust devils, he concludes.

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