Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo produced on Sol 2248, December 2, 2018. MAHLI is located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2250 duties.

Susanne Schwenzer, a planetary geologist at the Open University, Milton Keynes, in the U.K., reports that on sol 2250 the rover is to finish observations on and around the Highfield drill hole and drive to an area where red Jura is exposed.

Change detection

“The dataset Curiosity collected at the Highfield location is very informative,” Schwenzer notes, as it includes observations that especially benefit from the longer stay, such as the change detection imaging experiments.

Curiosity Navcam Left A photo taken on Sol 2248, December 2, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“In one of the images, the sand movements became very apparent by the drill hole already starting to fill in – not a planned change detection, but an interesting one nonetheless,” Schwenzer adds. “It is just a few sols since we drilled, yet sand has drifted in and parts of the drill fines have blown away. We were once more reminded, just how active Mars is!”

Drill site context

Recently, Curiosity was set to make the two last Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) observations in the Highfield area: one measurement will be taken of the Highfield dump pile, and one of a vein target called “Niddrie.”

“Those will help us to better understand the drilled sample itself, and also the geologic and geochemical context of the drill site. Mastcam will document the activities as usual,” Schwenzer points out.

ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo acquired on Sol 2249, December 3, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Next drill site

“Then we will head off to the next potential drill site to find a good place to drill the red Jura,” Schwenzer says. The team has extensively surveyed the area, and Curiosity is heading to a site called “Lothian.”

“After the drive, Curiosity will gather as much information as she can by doing a large workspace Mastcam mosaic,” Schwenzer reports. Other activities are Navcam post drive imaging and use of AEGIS, the Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science (AEGIS) software.

“On to new adventures,” Schwenzer concludes, “red Jura, here we come!”

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