Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B image taken on Sol 2412, May 20, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2412 duties.

Curiosity is continuing the investigations at “Rigg,” reports Susanne Schwenzer, a planetary geologist at The Open University; Milton Keynes, U.K.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image acquired on Sol 2412, May 20, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The robot’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) is allowing detailed investigation of the materials that make up the field of sand ripples.

Color and luster

“Things the team is looking for are grain size and grain size distribution, and the shape of the grains,” Schwenzer adds. “In addition to that, the color and luster of the different grain varieties are of interest to allow us to analyze the variation of phases in the sand. One feature to note, for example, are the pinkish grains on the surface, which appear to be larger than all others.”

Curiosity science planners have prepared a three-sol plan with many activities imaging the sand ripples and investigating their chemistry.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo produced on Sol 2412, May 20, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Grain sizes

The rover’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) will measure the targets “Nairn” and “Ellon,” to investigate the differences of the different soil colors and grain sizes.

Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) plans include the soil targets “Seafield Tower,” “Saltire” and “Selkirk,” whereby Seafield Tower and Saltire are on ripple crests and Selkirk is on a ripple flank. There also is one rock target to investigate a rock color variation at the target: “Camustianavaig.”

Image taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), on Sol 2409. It shows the target Dunoon. This image is about 45 mm by 34 mm.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS




Workspace imagery

Schwenzer explains that Mastcam will document all ChemCam targets, but also take two mosaic images, one of the workspace and one looking back at the “Aberlady” and “Kilmarie” drill target area.

MAHLI will take a look at the APXS targets from the past and this plan, which are “Donoon,” “Gairsay,” “Ellon” and “Nairn.” Also in the plan are environmental activities and Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) active and passive measurements.

Rear Hazcam Right B image taken on Sol 2412, May 20, 20019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Navcam Right B photo taken on Sol 2412, May 20, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Besides all the science, housekeeping activities are prominent in the plan, too,” Schwenzer concludes. “Curiosity will take images of the drill bit, and do a ChemCam calibration activity.”

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