Curiosity Front Hazcam Left A image acquired on Sol 2219, November 3, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has just begun Sol 2220 science operations.

Reports Kristen Bennett, a planetary geologist for the USGS in Flagstaff, Arizona, the robot has made a drive for the first time since Sol 2166.

“Our intrepid explorer is truly back at it after a few weeks off due to the anomaly. The short drive — also called a bump — placed us in a workspace a few meters away from our previous location where we had attempted to drill,” Bennett says.

Curiosity Rear Hazcam Left A photo taken on Sol 2219, November 3, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Weekend plan

“In this weekend’s three-sol plan there will be several diagnostic activities that will help us to understand the anomaly,” Bennett says, and in addition to the diagnostics, the weekend plan includes Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) and Mastcam observations of “Dryden” and “Kirkness,” which are bedrock targets, and of “Housay,” which is a vein within the bedrock.

Also included in the extensive plan is a Mastcam observation of “Eynhallow” to document laminations within the bedrock, a Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) image, and a Navcam dust devil survey.

Curiosity Mastcam Left image acquired on Sol 2218, November 2, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Sky flats

There are ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) Zenith Sky Flats scheduled on the first sol of the plan.

“In this activity ChemCam will take images looking up at the sky,” Bennett says. “This activity needs to happen near sunset because ChemCam should not look directly at the sun. These sky flats help us determine whether there is any dust contamination on ChemCam’s optical window, which is important right now because Mars just experienced a global dust event.”

Curiosity Mastcam Right photo acquiredd on Sol 2218, November 2, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Another drive slated

On the second sol of the plan, Curiosity’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) observations of two targets are on tap: “Calgary” and “Findon.”

Calgary is typical gray bedrock, and this target will be brushed with the Dust Removal Tool (DRT) prior to the MAHLI and APXS measurements.

On the plan’s third sol, the robot will drive towards Lake Orcadie, Bennett notes, “and next week we plan to start our drill campaign in the gray colored rocks at that location!”

Dark inclusions

In another report, Sarah Lamm, a planetary geologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, notes “Grange 2218” was targeted for more measurements, “so we have more information on the dark inclusions.”

Those odd inclusions have drawn comment from some researchers, wondering if they offer some clues to astrobiology on the Red Planet.

Curioisty ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo taken on Sol 2218, November 2, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

MAHLI image produced on Sol 2217, November 1, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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