Goodbye buttes. Curiosity Mastcam Right-image taken on Sol 1470, September 24, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Goodbye buttes. Curiosity Mastcam Right-image taken on Sol 1470, September 24, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has rolled into Sol 1473 – in search mode for a contact science locale.

Over last weekend, Curiosity drove over 140 feet (43 meters) to the south, in search of a good place for contact science.

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1471, September 25, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1471, September 25, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

“Unfortunately, our present location is in a small valley, and we don’t have many good rock targets in the workspace,” points out Lauren Edgar, a research geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.

 

Local bedrock and soil

“After evaluating the Mastcam drive direction imaging, we decided to drive further to the southwest. This should put us in front of a small exposure of cross-bedding for contact science,” Edgar explains.

The rover’s to-do list includes several Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) observations to characterize the composition of the local bedrock and soil.

Rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) took this survey image of wheel damage on September 25, 2016, Sol 1471. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) took this survey image of wheel damage on September 25, 2016, Sol 1471.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Extended mission duties

“We also planned a number of Mastcam mosaics to document some potentially coarser-grained rocks, sedimentary structures in the rocks in our workspace, and a linear feature that we can compare with observations from orbit,” Edgar adds.

Then the plan calls for a Curiosity drive toward an intended contact science target, and take post-drive imaging to prepare for future activities.

The robot has accomplished its first day of duties in its second extended mission, Edgar notes, “so it’s exciting to think about what we’ll accomplish in this next chapter!”

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