Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image taken on Sol 2429, June 7, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2430 duties.

Brittney Cooper, an atmospheric scientist at York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada reports that the original plan for Sol 2429 involved a “touch-and-go” where the rover would have engaged in contact science (that’s the “touch” portion) followed by a drive (the “go” portion).

Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B photo acquired on Sol 2429, June 6, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

However, the instrument leads for the rover determined tactically that they were satisfied with the contact science already acquired at this location.

“Thus, we planned a ‘no-touch-and-go,’ and were able to take the time planned for contact science and use it to extend the length of a remote sensing science block before the drive,” Cooper explains.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 2429, June 7, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Nearby gravel

This science block contains two Mastcam multi-filter observations, a 10×1 Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) raster on target “Awe,” a 5×1 raster on target “Castle Rock,” and a Mastcam stereo mosaic to capture nearby gravel.

Curiosity will then drive an hour and twenty minutes, Cooper adds, and wrap up the sol with some post-drive imaging of the new workspace, a Mastcam tau to measure atmospheric opacity, and a post-drive Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) active measurement.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 2429, June 7, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Cosmic rays

“For those not familiar, a post-drive DAN active consists of the DAN instrument shooting neutrons into the ground and measuring the energy of the reflected neutrons to detect hydrogen just below the surface,” Cooper points out. “A DAN active occurs after every drive so that the DAN team can acquire these measurements at every location that Curiosity stops and does science.”

DAN actives run in conjunction with DAN passives, Cooper adds, “and while you may not hear about them often, the passive measurements run pretty much anytime Curiosity is awake for more than an hour. In passive mode, DAN relies on cosmic rays to provide a source of neutrons for its measurements.”

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo taken on Sol 2429, June 6, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL



Pre-determined pointings

The second sol plan consists of a science block that will occur following the sol 2429 drive, thus researchers don’t know what the robot’s workspace will look like.

In this block a planned Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science (AEGIS) activity to find a target of interest is on tap, then run a 3×3 ChemCam raster on it, along with two types of Navcam movies with pre-determined pointings to hunt for dust devils.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo produced on Sol 2427, June 5, 2019. MAHLI is located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


UV radiation

Lastly, standard Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) extended block and nominal hourly measurements of temperature, pressure, humidity and UV radiation were also included in this plan, Cooper notes.

“We made sure to include an extra REMS extended block over the dust devil surveys,” Cooper concludes, “because the pressure monitoring can be used in combination with the visual imagery to measure and detect these low-pressure vortices.”

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