Curiosity Navcam Right B image acquired on Sol 1869, November 8, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Now in Sol 1870, NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars has wheeled itself into a new position along the Vera Rubin Ridge.

Reports Rachel Kronyak, a planetary geologist at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, in looking at recent images from the robot: “I can’t help but think that Curiosity is giving us a ‘high-five’ for another stellar drive!”

High-five! Curiosity Navcam Right B photo showing Curiosity’s location after a successful drive on Sol 1869. The shadows show the Robotic Arm and turret on the left, and the Remote Sensing Mast to the lower right.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Jam-packed agenda

Earth control teams have planned a “jam-packed” agenda for two sols of remote and contact science as the journey along the Vera Rubin Ridge (VRR) continues.

That plan calls for, on Sol 1870, use of the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) observation on the bedrock target “Waboomberg.”

This will be followed by Mastcam imaging of nearby VRR features, including exposed rock layers and light-colored bedrock, Kronyak explains.

Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image taken on Sol 1869, November 8, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Brush off

On tap is use of the Dust Removal Tool (DRT) to brush the surface on target “Platberg,” which is to be followed by Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) imaging and an Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) analysis. Additional APXS and MAHLI observations are slated on Waboomberg.

On the Sol 1871 to do list, Kronyak adds that there’s a continuation of Curiosity science observations by using ChemCam and Mastcam multispectral to target Platberg.

Curiosity Navcam: Left B image taken on Sol 1869, November 8, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Bedrock features

“It’s quite common that we use multiple instruments on a single target – this is to corroborate datasets and give us a more complete, thorough analysis. We’ll take an additional Mastcam image of ‘St. Lucia’ to look at some interesting bedrock features by Curiosity’s wheel,” Kronyak reports.

Lastly, the plan calls for a suite of environmental monitoring activities, which will include use of the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) and Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) instruments, a Mastcam look at dust in the atmosphere, and a Mastcam line-of-sight extinction image.

Weekend science

“To wrap up the plan,” concludes Kronyak, “we’ll drive to our next VRR stop, take some standard post-drive images, and set ourselves up for an exciting weekend of science on Mars!”

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