Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera photo acquired on Sol 2609, December 8, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2610 tasks.

Reports Susanne Schwenzer, a planetary geologist at The Open University in the U.K., Curiosity’s rich workspace includes bedrock, pebbly areas and a brighter float rock of a kind which has been observed frequently in the vicinity.

“Thus, lots of variety…and a three-sol plan to fill.”

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Left B image taken on Sol 2609, December 8, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Difference in color

The robot’s recent plan made good use of the rock variety in the workspace. Its Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) will investigate two targets: “Scotnish” is a target which will be measured overnight after use of the Dust Removal Tool (DRT) of the area.

“Gretna Green” is a touch and go target measured in standoff mode, because it is a small brighter float rock.

“It will be interesting to see how the difference in color – mainly albedo – translates to chemistry,” Schwenzer notes. The robot’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) is documenting the same rocks as APXS, and in addition will image “Smiddyhill” in dog’s eye mode to get up close with the sedimentary textures.

“The scientists back on Earth are eagerly waiting to have a look at those images to understand the depositional conditions and also to correlate the rocks between the current investigations area at Western Butte,” Schwenzer reports.

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Left B image taken on Sol 2609, December 8, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Repertoire of targets

Meanwhile, Curiosity’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) is busy with three targets. “First, it is also investigating Gretna Green, and then adds a bedrock target named “Skaill” and a pebbly target called “Stoneypath” to its repertoire,” Schwenzer adds.

The rover’s Mastcam adds to the feast with several large mosaics, looking at the pediment ahead, an area close to the rover for sand ripple studies and a target called “White Hills” for more sedimentary studies. There are also two multispectral investigations and the documentation of the ChemCam targets in Mastcam’s plan.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 2609, December 8, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Looking forward

This was to keep Curiosity busy over last weekend, Schwenzer adds, and the rover is to study those images and data to correlate them with previous investigations, and also looking forward to the top of the butte.

Concludes Schwenzer, talking of looking forward: “The planned drive is designed to get a block of rock into the workspace, which the planning team anticipates could allow us correlations not only around Western Butte, but also to Central Butte.”

Leave a Reply