Curiosity Front Hazcam Left A image acquired on Sol 2339, March 6, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2341 science work.

The rover is finishing up at the “Midland Valley” outcrop, work that also included inspection of a wide range of new images.

“In those images the team discovered a block that allows a unique 3D view of the rocks in the area,” reports Susanne Schwenzer, a planetary geologist at The Open University, Milton Keynes in the U.K.

This target has now been named “Muir of Ord.” Curiosity Rear Hazcam Right A photo taken on Sol 2339, March 6, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Rock of interest

As the rover stood at the moment, the rock of interest was just behind it, with the line of sight and Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) line of laser shot blocked by the rover itself.

“The question was, whether to proceed as planned and drive away from the site, or to turn the rover around and take the opportunity to observe this block from the top and the side,” Schwenzer adds. “This way, we would gain a three-dimensional view of the layering as well as chemical information. This would be important information to investigate depositional conditions of those rocks, and thus help our understanding of the new environment of the clay-bearing unit, as part of which this rock was deposited. We decided to take the turn.

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 2339, March 6, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Unusual maneuver

As a start, in a recent plan, the rock was named “Muir of Ord” and – in an unusual maneuver only possible because of the very short and well understood drive to turn the rover around, Schwenzer explains.

Curiosity Mastcam Right photo taken on Sol 2339, March 6, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity’s Mastcam will be able to get multispectral imagery in the same sol. Chemical information and the robot’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) will add to the investigations in the future.

Concludes Schwenzer: “So, stay tuned!”

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