Curiosity Navcam Right B image taken on Sol 1500, October 25, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Navcam Right B image taken on Sol 1500, October 25, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity rover is now in Sol 1501, carrying out a suite of new Mars exploration tasks.

On Sol 1500, the Mars robot drove nearly 100 feet (30 meters) to the south, crossing into a quadrangle that has been informally named “Bar Harbor,” after Bar Harbor, Maine.

Towns on Earth

“As a reminder, prior to landing we divided up the landing ellipse and nearby areas into square quads (1.5 km on a side), and assigned each quad a name of a town with a population of less than 100,000 people,” explains Lauren Edgar, a research geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.

“As Curiosity investigates rock targets within a quad, we assign names to the targets that correspond to geologic formations and features from that town on Earth. After driving through the “Windhoek” quad for quite some time, we are now in the “Bar Harbor” quad, and the naming scheme will follow names from that town,” Edgar adds.

Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image taken on Sol 1500, October 25, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image taken on Sol 1500, October 25, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Windy day

Before Curiosity hit the road, the rover took a Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) image of the drill hole, Edgar reports, and observed just how quickly the wind had swept away the fines. Two images were taken one sol apart, showing just how windy a day on Mars can be.

A new plan for Curiosity was slated to begin with Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) observations of “The Bubbles” and “The Bowl” to characterize the local Murray bedrock.

Driving to the south

The rover script then called for acquiring Mastcam mosaics of “Gilmore Peak” and “Long Pond” to assess some possible cross-stratification in the Murray formation.

“After another drive to the south, we’ll acquire post-drive imaging, which includes Navcam and Mastcam drive-direction mosaics (with some additional frames to capture more of the “Gilmore Peak” outcrop), a Navcam mosaic of the ChemCam targetable region, a Mastcam clast survey, and a standard [Mars Descent Imager] (MARDI) image for documentation of the terrain below the rover.

Curiosity used its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm, to acquire this image on October 21, 2016, Sol 1496. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity used its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm, to acquire this image on October 21, 2016, Sol 1496.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Overnight, Curiosity was on top to carry out a Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin) analysis of the “Sebina” sample, Edgar notes.

Dates of planned rover activities are all subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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