Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image acquired on Sol 2477, July 26, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now concluding Sol 2477 tasks.

“Europeans, Californians… and many others on the team watched their thermometers rise to record highs today, reaching 36 °C,” reports Susanne Schwenzer, a planetary geologist at The Open University, Milton Keynes, U.K.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo produced on Sol 2477, July 26, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Thinking about planning, Schwenzer adds, where the Mars researchers think about cold, wintertime temperatures on Mars and seeing the maximum temperature was minus 30 °C according to the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), this 66 °C difference in temperature “is a very practical demonstration of orbital mechanics and other factors, and more generally how different Earth and Mars are!”

Curiosity Navcam Left B image acquired on Sol 2476, July 25, 2019. It is pointed at Mt. Sharp and shows how steep a tilt the rover currently is experiencing.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Rover tilt

Temperatures are not today’s most important record, though: Curiosity is currently tilted 25° – and that’s more than ever before, during science operations, Schwenzer explains.

Despite the slope, the robot is using its instrumented arm to investigate the outcrop in front of the Mars machinery.

“Since lamination and other sedimentary features are exceptionally well accessible,” Schwenzer notes, the plan calls for using the rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) to create a “dog’s-eye mosaic” to study all the details on a target called “East Caithness Cliff.”

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo taken on Sol 2477, July 26, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Outcrop observations

The robot’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) is slated to target some of the layers of East Caithness Cliff for chemistry.

Curiosity’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) is busy on the target “Cruden Bay,” which is also part of the outcrop but at a lower level than the MAHLI mosaic.

Curiosity Navcam Right B image taken on Sol 2476, July 25, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Curiosity will then drive away to reach the top of the ridge,” Schwenzer concludes, with the robot then on closer-to-horizontal ground, “which hopefully comes with a first view of the top of this ridge.”

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