Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 2643, January 12, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2645 duties.

“While descending from Western Butte, Curiosity has stopped to investigate a strange trough along the way,” reports Melissa Rice, a planetary geologist at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Left B photo acquired on Sol 2644, January 13, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“In the images from orbit, it looks like someone drew a thick straight line with a dark felt marker on the southeastern side of the butte. From the ground, it looks like a shallow ditch filled with dark sand,” Rice adds. “We don’t know what created this feature, or why it happens to be right here, so it’s worth stopping for a closer look.”

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Right B photo acquired on Sol 2644, January 13, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Downhill driving

Over the weekend, Curiosity drove downhill and parked at the top of the trough, which we named “Balgy.”

The rover is slated to take a large Mastcam stereo mosaic covering both sides of Balgy Trough. Mars scientists are also taking a smaller Mastcam stereo mosaic of laminated rocks nearby called “Baljaffray,” and grab a quick set of Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) and Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) observations on the bedrock target “Kennedys Pass.”

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 2644, January 13, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“After that, Curiosity will finish descending from Western Butte and will head south,” Rice concludes.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

Curiosity Rear Hazard Avoidance Camera Right B image taken on Sol 2644, January 13, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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