Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image acquired on Sol 1816, September 15, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Just sliding into Sol 1818, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover heads for a “soliday” on Sunday to get researchers back in synch with “Mars time” in Gale Crater.

That’s the update from Kenneth Herkenhoff a planetary geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona.

The focus of recent science planning was observations of the robot’s current workspace, including an experiment to acquire Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) data on a bedrock target before getting a brush off.

Brushable targets

MAHLI images of three potential Dust Removal Tool (DRT) targets were received and used to determine which of these small exposures could be brushed. One had small pebbles in the DRT ellipse, so could not be brushed, Herkenhoff adds, but both of the other targets (“Christmas Cove” and “Mitten Ledge”) are brushable.

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on Sol 1816, September 15, 2017. MAHLI located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

“So the APXS will measure the chemistry of Christmas Cove before it is brushed off, then will be placed on the brushed spot to measure chemical differences,” Herkenhoff notes. MAHLI will image both targets before and after brushing, he explains, then acquire a full suite of images on a layered block dubbed “Whittum.”

Laser strikes

Also on Sol 1818, Curiosity’s Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) will shoot its laser at another layered bedrock block named “Medomak.”

The rover’s Mastcam is to image Medomak, the Sun, and the crater rim to measure dust opacity in the atmosphere. A nighttime operation of APXS is placing the instrument on Mitten Ledge for a long integration.

Passive spectra

Curiosity’s Sol 1819 duties that are planned involve a Navcam search for dust devils before ChemCam acquires passive spectra of Christmas Cove and Mitten Ledge.

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on Sol 1816, September 15, 2017. MAHLI located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

“Mastcam will then acquire multispectral observations of Christmas Cove and more distant “Jaquish Ledge” before the rover drives away,” Herkenhoff says.

After the drive, in addition to the standard imaging, the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) will execute two active integrations.

Winter on Mars

“Because the Martian winter is approaching, we are planning more heating, which reduces the power available for other activities,” Herkenhoff points out. Therefore, it has been difficult to fit all action items of the rover into the plan today, making for a challenging day.

Curiosity laser shots cross layered bedrock block named “Medomak.”
Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo acquired on Sol 1818, September 17, 2017
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

“We had to shorten or delete some scientific observations, which was painful, but I’m happy with all of the science we were able to plan today,” Herkenhoff concludes.

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