Left Navigation Camera Left B image taken on Sol 2577, November 6, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, now in Sol 2578, is continuing its exploration of Central Butte with a two-sol “touch-and-go” plan.

That means that the rover will have one sol of contact science at its current stop before the robot continues on her drive around the base of the butte.

Left Navigation Camera Left B image taken on Sol 2577, November 6, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Early on in planning, there was some discussion about the drive route; ultimately, the team decided to head south to get a closer view of some of the exposed layering within the butte,” reports Mariah Baker, Planetary Geologist at Johns Hopkins University.

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Left B photo taken on Sol 2577, November 5, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

 

Drive direction

A new plan included time for a short science block before the drive, which the rover science team filled with a Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) Remote Micro-Imaging (RMI) camera mosaic of target “Crimond” and a Mastcam mosaic that will provide increased coverage of Curiosity’s drive direction.

Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) and Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) measurements were also planned for the bedrock target “Pobie Bank,” comprising the “touch” part of this plan.

Curiosity Left Navigation Camera Left B photo acquired on Sol 2577, November 5, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

After this science block, the rover was set to “go” to her next stop, which will bring it a little further up the base of the butte.

New workspace

Standard post-drive imaging using Navcam, Mastcam, and Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) will round out the first sol and will provide a better look at its new workspace.

The second sol in the plan contains one untargeted science block, which will include a ChemCam passive measurement, a ChemCam Autonomous Exploration for Gathering of Increased Science (AEGIS) observation, and a Mastcam stereo mosaic of the top of the butte.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo produced on Sol 2577, November 6, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Environmental observations

The team also planned a set of environmental observations including Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) and Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) measurements, as well as Mastcam images of the crater rim, a Mastcam sky survey, a Navcam line-of-sight observation, and a Navcam supra horizon movie.

“This data will help give us a head start on our next plan so that we can use our time to examine Central Butte more closely,” Baker notes. “In order to accomplish all of our science goals at this location, the rover will make a couple more stops along the side of the butte before continuing along the long-term strategic route.”

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