NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 1673 duties.
In a report from the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, Michelle Minitti reports: “There’s nothing like a day of technical difficulties to make you appreciate when it all works!”
Minitti explains that the Curiosity science team bounced back from a challenging planning day with a vengeance, scripting a full suite of observations of rock and sky surrounding the robot.
Catching the team’s eye
A drive of 75 feet (23 meters) on Sol 1673 put Curiosity alongside Murray bedrock blocks “that appeared to be capped with a different material, with a darker color and smoother texture relative to the Murray,” Minitti notes.
The two materials, separated by what looked like bright-toned, sulfate vein material, caught the team’s eye, leading them to plan multiple observations of these materials.
The “Sorrento Harbor” target aimed to capture the transition from the Murray bedrock to the vein material, and the “Bean Point” target investigated a gray patch among the vein material.
“This gray patch resembled similar gray patches targeted over the last several weeks given their unique textures and chemistries,” Minitti adds.
A second target, “Cape Levi,” is another patch of this material in front of the rover. The “Chimney Peak” target, a raster across multiple layers of Murray bedrock, rounded out targeted Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) activities.
“We imaged all the ChemCam targets, acquired a mosaic covering the contact between the darker, smoother capping material, the sulfate vein material, and the underlying Murray, and a stereo mosaic of the “Moxie Mountain” outcrop to investigate the dip of the Murray formation at this spot,” Minitti explains.
The skies of Gale crater were scanned by the robot, a variety of images and movies to look for clouds and variations in atmospheric properties.
Weekend drive paths
“Given the sand-covered terrain a few meters ahead of the rover, the rover planners kept today’s drive fairly conservative,” Minitti adds, “to give us a better look at possible drive paths for the weekend.
The plan calls for Curiosity to drive up to a nice curb of bedrock for weekend targeted and contact science.
“The arm unstow after our drive will give our post-drive images with Navcam and Mastcam an unobstructed view of our weekend work (play?) space,” Minitti concludes.