Curiosity Front Hazcam Left A photo acquired on Sol 2255, December 10, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is wrapping up Sol 2255 duties.

Reports Abigail Fraeman, a planetary geologist at NASA/JPL in Pasadena, California, even though they looked promising, the red Jura rocks scientists had hoped to drill are too fractured to drill safely.

Curiosity Navcam Right A photo taken on Sol 2255, December 10, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“The texture of these rocks is actually fairly typical of the red Jura rocks, so finding one that is drillable may be challenging,” Fraeman notes. “But we’re not giving up right away!”

The science and engineering teams identified another promising rock candidate just a few meters away. The plan calls for the robot to “bump” towards that area to take a closer look.

Curiosity Navcam Left A image acquired on Sol 2255, December 10, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Geological properties

Curiosity science team members have worked with the rover drivers to evaluate the geological properties of the terrain the robot will cross during the planned drive. Doing so is to ensure the vehicle doesn’t drive over any hazards.

“We will take some time to do science before the drive,” Fraeman adds. In the morning of sol 2252, the plan called for a long remote sensing science block where Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) and Mastcam observations were to be collected of targets named “Knochan Crag,” “Skatie Shore,” and “Conan Mains.”

Also on tap were Mastcam stereo images of additional potential drill targets in the area named “Dunecht” and “Stronecraigs.”

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 2254, December 9, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

Blowing dust

After the drive on sol 2253, the plan called for an observation of the sky using ChemCam in passive (no laser) mode, along with additional environmental science measurements that include some taus, sky survey, crater rim extinction image, and dust devil searches.

“Dust has certainly been blowing around in Gale Crater lately,” Fraeman reports. An image of the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) calibration target was much cleaner than an image of the same target taken a few weeks ago when the planet-wide dust storm had just started to abate (Sol 2161), Fraeman concludes.

Images of the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) calibration target and comparative dust levels.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Navcam Left A image acquired on Sol 2255, December 10, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Traverse map

Meanwhile, a recently released Curiosity traverse map through Sol 2250 shows the route driven by Curiosity through the 2250 Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission on Mars (December 06, 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 2222 to Sol 2250, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 36.80 feet (11.22 meters), bringing the rover’s total odometry for the mission to 12.33 miles (19.84 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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