Curiosity reached the top of the slope March 6 (the 2,696th Martian day, or sol, of the mission). It took three drives to scale the hill, the second of which tilted the rover 31 degrees — the most the rover has ever tilted on Mars. This selfie was taken on Feb. 26, 2020 (Sol 2687). Since 2014, the robot has been rolling up Mount Sharp, a 3-mile-tall (5-kilometer-tall) mountain at the center of Gale Crater.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has just begun performing Sol 2721 duties.

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Right B image taken on Sol 2720, April 1, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Laser shots as seen in this Curiosity Chemistry & Camera Remote Micro Imager (RMI) photo acquired on Sol 2720, March 31, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

The priority for the recent sol 2720 plan was to drop off and analyze a sample of the Edinburgh drill hole in the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite.

“But we’ve got plenty of remote sensing in the plan too, much of it building on our previous observations from this spot,” reports Ryan Anderson, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Curiosity Mast Camera Right photo taken on Sol 2719, March 30, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Changes in weathering behavior

“We start each morning with a Navcam dust devil survey,” Anderson adds.

In the Sol 2720 plan, the robot’s Mastcam was to take a stereo mosaic of a nearby hilltop, extending a previous mosaic to look for changes in the weathering behavior of the pediment cap rock. This was to be followed by Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) observations of two sandstone bedrock targets named “Tron Kirk” and “Dunedin” and extensions of two long-distance  Remote Micro Imager (RMI) telescope mosaics of the “washboard” surface of the pediment, Anderson explains.

Curiosity’s Mastcam was tasked to document the ChemCam targets, and then take some pictures of the SAM inlet before and after sample drop off.

Navcam also has an 8-frame movie toward the south to watch for atmospheric activity like clouds. The robot’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) then has an overnight atmospheric observation, Anderson notes. “Yes, APXS can measure the atmosphere too!”

Curiosity Mast Camera Right photo taken on Sol 2719, March 30, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Down the drill hole

On the Sol 2721 plan, ChemCam was slated to make a vertical measurement inside the Edinburgh drill hole.

Curiosity Mast Camera Right photo taken on Sol 2719, March 30, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Rear Hazard Avoidance Camera Left B photo acquired on Sol 2720, April 1, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Mast Camera Right photo taken on Sol 2719, March 30, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

“After Mastcam documents that observation,” Anderson concludes, “it will add some frames to its own mosaic of the washboard pattern on the pediment. Navcam will then take a picture toward the north to study the amount of dust in the atmosphere. The rest of sol 2721 will be taken up by SAM’s analysis of the Edinburgh sample.”

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