Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image acquired on Sol 2035, April 28, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has just started Sol 2036 operations.

“Down the ridge she comes,” reports Michelle Minitti, a planetary geologist at Framework in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Curiosity continues to pick her way downhill off the “Vera Rubin Ridge” and onto the Murray formation rocks below.

Curiosity Mastcam Left photo taken on Sol 2034, April 27, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

“This weekend’s plan only covers two sols,” Minitti notes, “to give Earth planning time and Mars time a chance to realign so that the science team is not up in the middle of the night commanding the rover.”

Nevertheless, the two sols are still full of activities.

Sandy slope

The rover is positioned on a rock-strewn sandy slope, and the science team thought the scattered rocks of the workspace would be better interrogated with Mastcam and Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) than the robot’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) and the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS).

Roll over rock! Curiosity Mastcam Left photo taken on Sol 2034, April 27, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

ChemCam targeted “Virginia,” a tan bedrock slab with small nodules, “Shannon Lake,” a red bedrock slab, and “Eveleth,” a block with distinctive layers. One of the advantages of driving backward is that rocks the rover has driven over end up in view of the remote sensing instruments,” Minitti comments.

Mastcam acquired multispectral data from a rock broken by the rover wheels, the target “Britt,” and an expanse of crossbedded outcrop, “Aurora,” to the left of the rover.

Well-preserved scarp

Minitti adds that Curiosity’s Mastcam completed imaging of the “Taconite” crater structure, which the rover has been skirting around the last several sols, with a large mosaic, and captured a single image of a well-preserved scarp in the sand amongst the rocks dubbed “Kinney.”

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo acquired on Sol 2035, April 28, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL


Dust accumulation

While MAHLI did not see any action over rock targets in the last Sol, the rover is set to image the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) ultraviolet sensor, positioned on the rover deck.

“Such MAHLI images keep track of dust accumulation, supporting the observations of the sky made by the sensor,” Minitti points out. “The sky itself will get attention from Mastcam and Navcam, with observations of dust in the atmosphere and dust devils at midday, and observations of dust in the atmosphere and clouds in the early morning,”

High interest targets

Navcam Left B photo taken on Sol 2035, April 28, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

After a drive of roughly 165 feet (50 meters), “Curiosity ought to be positioned within sight of two prominent vertical outcrop faces farther east along the Vera Rubin Ridge,” Minitti reports. These are high interest targets for imaging for next week, as the team hopes they provide further insight into the structure and formation of the ridge itself.”

After the drive, the robot’s Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin) will conduct an empty cell analysis, “a move in preparation for what the team hopes is acquisition and delivery of a new drilled sample in the not-too-distant future,” Minitti concludes.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Traverse map

A new Curiosity traverse map through Sol 2034 shows the route driven by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity through the 2034 Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission on Mars (April 27, 2018).

Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up. The scale bar is 1 kilometer (~0.62 mile).

From Sol 2032 to Sol 2034, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 90.83 feet (27.69 meters), bringing the rover’s total odometry for the mission to 11.71 miles (18.85 kilometers).

The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

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