Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 1469, September 23, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 1469, September 23, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now in Sol 1470 as researchers set in place a change of plans.

A recent drive of the robot “went nicely,” reports Ryan Anderson, a planetary scientist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona. “We are already about halfway to our next drill site!”

Exposed stratigraphy

An original plan to head toward an outcrop called “Karasburg” had to be changed because it turned out to be covered in sand and not very steep, making it a less-desirable science target, Anderson adds. “So instead we are heading toward a location where — we hope — the stratigraphy will be better-exposed.”

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1467, September 21, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1467, September 21, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

As scripted the weekend plan begins on Sol 1470 with a Navcam dust devil search and atmospheric observation, plus Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) observations of the targets “Chiagne,” “Chibemba,” and “Chibanda.”

Curiosity’s Mastcam will document those three targets, as well as the location of the automated ChemCam observation that was collected after a recent rover drive.

Autonomous exploration

Mastcam is slated to produce three mosaics: a 6×3 of the Karasburg outcrop, a 4×1 of a location called “Longojo” and a 5×2 extension of the drive direction mosaic.

On the to-do list is a Sol 1471 wheel checkup with the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) and then drive, Anderson adds, followed by the usual post-drive imaging.

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1467, September 21, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1467, September 21, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Beyond the buttes

On Sol 1472, on tap is another Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science (AEGIS) automated ChemCam observation, a couple of Mastcam atmospheric observations, and ChemCam calibration targets.

Points out Ken Herkenhoff, also a USGS Astrogeology Science Center Mars researcher: “While the Murray Buttes were spectacular and interesting, it’s good to be back on the road again, as there is much more of Mt. Sharp to explore!”

 

New map

A new map has been issued that shows the route driven by Curiosity through the 1469 Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission on Mars.

Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up.

From Sol 1468 to Sol 1469, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 114.36 feet (34.86 meters).

Since touching down in August 2012, Curiosity has driven 8.88 miles (14.29 kilometers).

Rover on the road again. The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Rover on the road again. The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

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