Curiosity Mastcam Left image acquired on Sol 2459, July 7, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2464 tasks.

Curiosity has continued work on and around “a gorgeous outcrop” that was started on Sol 2461, reports Michelle Minitti, a planetary geologist at Framework in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B photo taken on Sol 2463, July 11, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltec

“The layers of the outcrop – with their different colors, textures and thicknesses – tell us a story,” Minitti explains, one that scientists have worked to decipher with the rover’s full complement of contact and targeted science instruments.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 2463, July 11, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Clearer story

The robot’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) and its Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) is on tap to analyze a grayish red target, “Tay.”

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 2463, July 11, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 2463, July 11, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“The team hoped Tay’s grayish red color would be indicative of less dust cover,” Minitti adds, “in other words, a chance for Tay to tell us a clearer story!”

The Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument is slated to shoot another gray target, “Donside,” and “Fountainbridge,” located on the farside of the outcrop where it exhibits a cracked texture.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 2463, July 11, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Future exploration sites

“Off to the right of the rover, Mastcam will image a block, “Achmelvich,” near the right rear wheel that was shifted during our last drive, revealing the steep face of a sand deposit sitting amongst the bedrock in the area,” Minitti points out.

Curiosity’s Mastcam has also turned its gaze to the scene, looking toward future sites of exploration.

A recently scripted plan calls for a five image stereo mosaic of “Annan,” and a 19 image stereo mosaic of “Craigeven Bay.”

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo produced on Sol 2463, July 11, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Bedding structures

“Both Annan and Craigeven Bay exhibit bedding structures that caught the team’s eye; stereo imaging will give us a better three-dimensional sense for those structures,” Minitti adds. “MAHLI also got in on the landscape-imaging act, acquiring an image from the stowed position. MAHLI’s view will incorporate our path over the last month or so. The last MAHLI stowed image was acquired over 700 sols ago!”

Annan is not far from Curiosity’s workspace – only about 23 feet (7 meters) away.

After the drive, the plan has the rover unstowing its arm to get a clearer look at the available workspace. “The short drive means we can still reliably target Mastcam at distant targets. Thus, Mastcam will gather multispectral data from outcrops that we will visit in the coming weeks and months,” reports Minitti.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo produced on Sol 2463, July 11, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

Differences among the terrains

“The hope is that these data will highlight differences among the terrains that are not apparent at visible wavelengths of light alone,” Minitti notes. “Curiosity will briefly look skyward, acquiring Navcam and Mastcam images looking for clouds and measuring atmospheric opacity.”

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

The plan has the rover’s Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin) completing the plan with an activity to make sure one of its reusable cells is empty and ready for the next sample, Minitti concludes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traverse map

A recently issued Curiosity traverse map shows the route driven by the rover through the 2459 Martian day, or sol, as of July 08, 2019.

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 2454 to Sol 2459, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 8.50 feet (2.59 meters), bringing the rover’s total odometry for the mission to 12.99 miles (20.91 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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