Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1519, November 13, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1519, November 13, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

NASA’s Curiosity rover is now in Sol 1521 and is “continuing to make steady progress,” reports Ryan Anderson, a planetary scientist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona. There have been successful drives of the robot “interspersed with plenty of good science,” he adds.

In a Sol 1516 plan, scientists started off with a Mastcam mosaic of “West Mesa” to study the stratigraphy, followed by a big 5×5 point Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) analysis on the nodular target “Ship Island.”

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 1519 November 13, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 1519 November 13, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Laser shots

In appraising that target, ChemCam has carried out more than 400,000 laser shots!

Zap patrol: The Laser-Induced Remote Sensing for Chemistry and Micro-Imaging instrument will identify atomic elements in martian rocks. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/J.-L. Lacour, CEA

Zap patrol: The Laser-Induced Remote Sensing for Chemistry and Micro-Imaging instrument will identify atomic elements in martian rocks.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/J.-L. Lacour, CEA

ChemCam looks at rocks and soils from a distance, then fires a laser and analyzes the elemental composition of vaporized materials from areas smaller than 1 millimeter on the surface of Martian rocks and soils.

An on-board spectrograph provides unprecedented detail about minerals and microstructures in rocks by measuring the composition of the resulting laser-produced plasma — an extremely hot gas made of free-floating ions and electrons.

ChemCam has been also used to analyze the target “Stave Island” and Mastcam documented both targets as well as the auto-targeted location from Sol 1514.

Curiosity Navcam Right B image taken on Sol 1519 November 13, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Navcam Right B image taken on Sol 1519 November 13, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Interesting dark rocks

Curiosity’s Mastcam rounded out the science block with a small mosaic of some interesting dark rocks, Anderson notes.

After that, Curiosity drove, and ChemCam did another auto-targeted observation.

Sol 1517 was pretty simple, with a Mastcam image of the rover deck, Navcam atmospheric monitoring, and a twilight image taken by the rover’s Mars Descent Imager (MARDI).

Workplace mosaic

“The Sol 1516 drive brought us to a sandy location, so the Sol 1518 plan takes advantage of that location to study the sand,” Anderson explains.

The plan starts out with Mastcam observations to monitor the amount of dust in the atmosphere, followed by ChemCam observations of “Folly Island”, “Burnt Porcupine,” “Hadley Point,” and “Old Whale Ledge.”

Curiosity’s Mastcam was slated to document all of those targets and also has an observation to extend the mosaic of the workspace.

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1518, November 12, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1518, November 12, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Sandy targets

With that remote sensing done, the rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) was on tap to image “Folly Island” and the sandy targets “Sheep Porcupine” and “Bald Porcupine.”

The robot’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) is scheduled to measure Sheep Porcupine and Bald Porcupine. Late in the day, Mastcam will repeat the observations of atmospheric dust.

On Sol 1519, the plan was to carry out a short drive with the usual post-drive imaging, and ChemCam will do another automated observation.

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager image taken on Sol 1520, November 14, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager image taken on Sol 1520, November 14, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Distant imaging

Sol 1520 was an untargeted Sol, so scientists focused on imaging distant targets.

Mastcam has on tap creating a mosaic of the upcoming “Hematite Ridge,” ChemCam has a long-distance Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) of Mt. Sharp, and NavCam will look to the northern horizon to measure the dust in the atmosphere, Anderson concludes.

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm, on November 12, 2016, Sol 1518. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm, on November 12, 2016, Sol 1518.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traverse map

Meanwhile, Curiosity’s traverse map through Sol 1519 has been issued.

This map shows the route driven by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity through the 1519 Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission on Mars (November 14, 2016).

The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up.

The scale bar is one kilometer (roughly 0.62 mile).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Sol 1516 to Sol 1519, Curiosity has driven a straight line distance of about 105.88 feet (32.27 meters), bringing the rover’s total odometry for the mission to 9.31 miles (14.98 kilometers).

Curiosity landed on Mars in August of 2012.

Leave a Reply