Picture perfect: A selfie taken by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on Sol 2291 (January 15) at the “Rock Hall” drill site, located on Vera Rubin Ridge.
This was Curiosity’s 19th drill site. The drill hole is visible to the rover’s lower-left.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has just begun Sol 2304 duties, with Red Planet scientists looking forward to the clay-bearing unit that the robot is set to explore.

Curiosity Front Hazcam Left A photo taken on Sol 2302, January 27, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Ryan Anderson, a planetary geologist at the USGS in Flagstaff, Arizona reports that the last weekend plan started off on Sol 2301 with some Mastcam atmospheric observations, followed by Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) analysis of “Loch Ness” and “Loch Skeen,” examples of brown and gray bedrock.

“ChemCam also had a long-distance image mosaic of an interesting outcrop in the clay-bearing unit. Once the remote sensing was done, it was time for some contact science,” Anderson adds.

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 2301, January 26, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Brush off

The robot’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) collected some images of Loch Ness before and after it was brushed, as well as the target “Puddledub.”

The Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) made a quick analysis of Puddledub and an overnight analysis of Loch Ness.

“On Sol 2302, we started off with a Navcam atmospheric observation, followed by Mastcam multispectral observations of Loch Ness and Loch Skeen. Mastcam also had a large stereo mosaic surveying the clay-bearing unit that we will soon be exploring,” Anderson explains.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo produced on Sol 2301, January 26, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Looming large

The rover then drove for about 105 feet (32 meters) and collected some post-drive imaging including a routine Mastcam “clast survey” to document changes in the rocks and soils along its traverse, Anderson adds, “as well as some additional Navcam images to help with imaging the pediment that is looming large just beyond the clay-bearing unit.

This was followed by some Mastcam atmospheric observations and a Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) image of the ground beneath the rover.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Anderson concludes that Sol 2303 rover work was dedicated to atmospheric observations, with the usual Mastcam “tau” images plus several Navcam movies. “Some of these were pointed at the sky to watch for clouds, while others were pointed out across the crater floor to watch for dust devils.”

On the trail 

Meanwhile, a newly issued Curiosity traverse map through Sol 2302  shows the route driven Curiosity through the 2302 Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission on Mars (January 28, 2019).

Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up. The scale bar is 1 kilometer (~0.62 mile).

From Sol 2300 to Sol 2302, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 86.26 feet (26.29 meters), bringing the rover’s total odometry for the mission to 12.46 miles (20.05 kilometers).

The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.


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