The image above, peeking over the deck of Curiosity with Navcam, gives an impression of the laminated outcrops along the way. Photo taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 2947, November 20, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2949 tasks.

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Right B image taken on Sol 2949, November 22, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“While it doesn’t rain in Gale crater, Curiosity is quite familiar with wind, and she watches out for the atmospheric phenomena around herself,” reports Susanne Schwenzer, a planetary geologist at The Open University; Milton Keynes, U.K.

“As we are again in the dust storm season, Curiosity monitors the environment even more closely,” Schwenzer notes. A current plan includes a Navcam line of sight imaging activity and Mastcam basic tau – both to watch the opacity in the atmosphere.

Two images from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA’s Curiosity rover depicting the change in the color of light illuminating the Martian surface since a dust storm engulfed Gale Crater. The left image shows the “Duluth” drill site on Sol 2058 (May 21, 2018); the right image is from Sol 2084 (June 17, 2018).
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

“Those are not from the typical cadence of activities Curiosity performs outside the dust storm season but are added especially now due to the potential for increased regional dust activity,” Schwenzer adds. “Curiosity also watches out for dust devils again in this plan. So, while it doesn’t rain at Gale crater, there is still a lot to watch out for!”

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image acquired on Sol 2949, November 22, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Portfolio of bedrock targets

On the rocky side, Curiosity will perform an Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) measurement on the target ‘Giova,’ which is a bedrock target.

Curiosity Mast Camera Left image taken on Sol 2947, November 20, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The robot’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) will look at the same target and add to its portfolio of bedrock targets by investigating the targets ‘Green Blett’ and ‘Gribun.’

“The team decided to focus on the bedrock because we are on the move again, and we are expecting to see changes in the bedrock chemistry as we travel along the landscape,” Schwenzer reports.

On the road again

With so much to look at, Mastcam is really busy in a current plan, imaging several of those outcrops, and taking a larger workspace image, too, Schwenzer says.

Curiosity Mast Camera Left image taken on Sol 2947, November 20, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

“On top of it all, and to the delight of the mineralogists like me, there also is a multispectral image of the target Giova – to be taken after the [Dust Removal Tool] DRT and APXS activity,” Schwenzer notes. “After so much atmospheric science, geochemistry and imaging for sedimentology, Curiosity gets on the road again, rolling along those beautiful benches and outcrops that have so much to tell about the geologic and geochemical history of Gale crater!”

Curiosity’s Location as of Sol 2943. Distance Driven 14.52 miles (23.37 kilometers).
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

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