“Central Butte” is visible in this image taken by Curiosity’s Left Navigation Camera B Sol 2565 October 24, 2019
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now carrying out Sol 2567 duties.

Kristen Bennett, a planetary geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, reports that Curiosity is in an incredible area, with interesting rocks in the workspace and towering buttes ahead of the Mars machinery.

“There are some color variations within the workspace, with some gray blocks right in front of the rover,” Bennett notes. There are three contact science targets in the weekend plan, two are a combination of Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) observations, and one is a MAHLI-only observation.

Curiosity Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) Remote Micro Imager (RMI) photo taken on Sol 2566, October 25, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Clear the dust

“South Ronaldsay” is on a flat bedrock target, and the Dust Removal Tool will be used to clear the dust before the MAHLI and APXS observations, Bennett explains.

“White Craig” is a MAHLI and APXS target on a different block to characterize any potential variations in this area.

Curiosity Mast Camera (Mastcam) Left image taken on Sol 2565, October 24, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Finally, “The Doups” is a MAHLI-only target in which we will look obliquely at the side of a block to investigate the sedimentary structures in this area.

Remote science

The weekend plan is also chock-full of remote science.

The robot’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) will target South Ronaldsay, so scientists can compare these results to the contact science observations.

Curiosity Left Navigation Camera B photo acquired on Sol 2565, October 24, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

ChemCam will also target “Ruvaal,” which is on another part of the bedrock in the workspace, to test for variations. Mastcam will take documentation images of both of these ChemCam targets.

Curiosity Left Navigation Camera B image acquired on Sol 2566, October 25, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Butte and tower country

Additionally, there are two large Mastcam mosaics in the plan.

“Curiosity is now driving through butte and tower country, so we planned mosaics to cover two of the nearby buttes,” Bennett reports. “One mosaic is of ‘Central Butte,’ which we will continue to drive around. Another is of “Rapness,” which is off to the east of the rover.”

After all these observations, Curiosity will drive towards Central Butte, Bennett adds, to start investigating the laminations that outcrop there. To add even more science observations to the plan, Curiosity will also take mid-drive imaging with Mastcam in order to get stereo information of the butte.

Curiosity Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) RMI image taken on Sol 2565, October 24, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

“Usually we get stereo by taking a Mastcam image of a target with both the right and left Mastcam cameras. But we can also obtain stereo by taking a picture, physically moving the rover a little bit, and then taking another picture,” Bennett concludes. “This butte is showing off some amazing laminations, so we are doing this long baseline stereo observation to better characterize this area.”

 

New road map

A new road map shows the route driven by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity through the 2563 Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission on Mars (October 22, 2019).

Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up. From Sol 2559 to Sol 2563, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 15.35 feet (4.68 meters).

 

 

Since touching down in Bradbury Landing in August 2012, Curiosity has driven 13.15 miles (21.17 kilometers).

The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Curiosity Right Navigation Camera B image acquired on Sol 2566, October 25, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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