Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image acquired on Sol 1749, July 8, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars is wrapping up Sol 1749 science tasks.

“Curiosity has intentionally scuffed a nearby sand ripple, which has gifted the team with an exceptional view of the interior of these small sand deposits,” reports Michael Battalio and atmospheric scientist from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image acquired on Sol 1748, July 7, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“The majority of the weekend’s activities will consist of lots of targeted science on the scuff, as there is no nearby bedrock for Curiosity to observe,” Battalio adds. “This is in contrast to the past week where quick documentation of local changes in stratigraphy of the bedrock as we drive closer to Vera Rubin Ridge was the priority.”

Ripple crest

Battalio notes that several targets were selected for observations around the scuff including the undisturbed ripple crest that is grayer with coarse grains, “Enchanted Island,” the undisturbed ripple side that is redder and finer-grained, “Thomas Little Toes,” and the wall of the scuff that cuts through the ripple, “Ile Damour.”

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 1748, July 7, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

These targets will be imaged by the robot’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) with particular focus on imaging the wall of the scuff to detect any layering within the interior of the ripple that has been uncovered.

Curiosity’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) will perform extended integrations on Thomas Little Toes and Enchanted Island.

Safety precautions

“Unfortunately, an APXS integration will not be performed on Ile Damour, and MAHLI will remain 5 centimeters away from this target to ensure safety of the instruments by not bringing the arm too close to the ripple at the risk of the side of the ripple collapsing,” Battalio reports. “Mastcam will also image these areas for comparison of grain size, color, and composition to previously observed ripples.”

On the schedule is use of the rover’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) to target Enchanted Island for comparison to two other ripple crest targets and Ile Damour to detect differences in grain size and composition in comparison to the targets on the ripple surface.

Change detection

Two other areas along and near the crest of the un-scuffed ripple will be targeted by Mastcam and ChemCam: “Verona” is slightly away from the crest of the ripple, and “Merrymeeting Bay” is at the base of the ripple crest.

“These two additional targets were selected to compare differences in grain size and composition and detect changes in color across the surface of the ripple,” Battalio explains. “An interesting wrinkle in planning was ordering the observations so that ChemCam activities on the wall of the scuff (the Ile Damour target) occurred after any imaging from MAHLI, in case actively shooting the fragile wall side disturbed or shifted the sand along the scuff wall.”

Curiosity Navcam Left B image acquired on Sol 1748, July 7, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Unusual selfie

Before the science activities with the arm, Battalio says, Curiosity will take “a rather unusual selfie of sorts” by pointing MAHLI directly into the eye of Mastcam to look at the Mastcam sunshade. This measurement is being taken to ensure that grains of sand are not interfering with Mastcam tau measurements – the amount of dust within the atmosphere of Mars.

Curiosity Mastcam Left image acquired on Sol 1748, July 7, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity is scheduled to drive away from the sand ripple to make some progress towards the next stop in the Vera Rubin Ridge imaging campaign before conjunction. Mastcam and Navcam will take standard post-drive imaging.

Battalio adds that two different dust devil surveys will be taken to attempt to observe any nearby convective vortices.

New road map

A new Curiosity traverse map through Sol 1748 has been released.

This map shows the route driven by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity through the 1748 Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission on Mars (July 07, 2017).

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

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 1747 to Sol 1748, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 18.09 feet (5.51 meters), bringing the rover’s total odometry for the mission to 10.52 miles (16.92 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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