Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1371, June 14, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1371, June 14, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars is now in Sol 1373 – wheeling its way to the south. The robot is now on a heading for rolling up Mount Sharp.

Last weekend, the robot drove roughly 105 feet (32 meters) and is expected to make an additional drive in the days to come.

Through a gap

Lauren Edgar, a research geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona reports that Curiosity is on this southward path that will eventually take it through a gap in active sand dunes, making it easier for the Mars machinery to traverse.

Over the past few days, the plan called for several Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) and Mastcam observations of the Murray formation to assess variations in texture and chemistry.

Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B image taken on Sol 1372, June 15, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B image taken on Sol 1372, June 15, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“We also planned a small Mastcam mosaic to document some nearby cross-stratification and nodules, and a small MAHLI mosaic of the target “Berg Aukas” before driving away,” Edgar adds. MAHLI stands for the Mars Hand Lens Imager.

Also on the science menu is Mastcam observation to monitor the opacity of the atmosphere.

Climb the mountain head-on

“Now that we’ve skirted our way around the dunes and crossed the plateau, we’ve turned south to climb the mountain head-on,” points out Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

This graphic maps the first 14 sites where NASA's Curiosity Mars rover collected rock or soil samples for analysis using the rover's onboard laboratory. It also presents images of the drilled holes where 12 rock-powder samples were acquired. At the other two sites Curiosity scooped soil samples.

This graphic maps the first 14 sites where NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover collected rock or soil samples for analysis using the rover’s onboard laboratory. It also presents images of the drilled holes where 12 rock-powder samples were acquired. At the other two sites Curiosity scooped soil samples.

 

 

 

“Since landing, we’ve been aiming for this gap in the terrain and this left turn. It’s a great moment for the mission,” Vasavada notes.

Meanwhile, a new Curiosity “self-portrait” has been released showing the robot at the “Okoruso” drill hole on Mars.

May 11, 2016 selfie of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at a drilled sample site called “Okoruso.” Note the veneer of windblown reddish particles on the deck of the robot. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

May 11, 2016 selfie of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at a drilled sample site called “Okoruso.” Note the veneer of windblown reddish particles on the deck of the robot.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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