Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image taken on Sol 1678, April 26, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

It’s official!

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has racked up over 10 miles (16.12 kilometers) since landing at 10:32 p.m. PDT, August 5, 2012.

The robot is now performing Sol 1678 science duties.

Up Mt. Sharp

A recent report by Abigail Fraeman via the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona underscores the rover’s drive sessions as it continues up Mt. Sharp, studying the Murray formation along the way.

“A big part of the science team strategy for exploring the Murray formation, the group of rocks that are the lowest and oldest in Mt. Sharp, has been to systematically characterize their changing chemistry and mineralogy,” Fraeman explains. “Understanding how these properties vary with elevation gives us insight into changing conditions in the geologic processes that deposited and altered these rocks during burial.”

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 1678, April 26, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Perched on rocks

Last week, because two of Curiosity’s wheels were perched on rocks during Friday’s planning, researchers were unable to safely use the arm to measure their chemistry using the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS).

Once the rover wheels were in good contact with the underlying terrain, a remote sensing block was adjusted and instead scientists uses the morning time to take advantage of the opportunity for contact science.

Curiosity Mastcam Left image acquired on Sol 1677, April 25, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

“The area directly in front of the rover was filled mostly with sand, but we were pleased to find there was a small patch of Murray bedrock that we were able to reach with the arm and that wasn’t filled with white veins,” Fraeman adds. “While veins and filled fractures are extremely interesting and frequently targeted for study, their presence in the field of view of the APXS makes it more difficult to understand the changing chemistry of the primary Murray bedrock.”

Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm, took this image on Sol 1675, April 23, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Geologic context

Recently, Curiosity investigated a contact science target dubbed “Casco Bay” and observations were planned of the target using both Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) and the APXS.

Also planned were taking Mastcam color images to help document the geologic context of the robot’s surroundings. Environmental science also requested a dust devil movie plan. “After our morning science block, we planned another drive to continue our way up Mt. Sharp,” Fraeman concludes.

Traverse map

Meanwhile, a newly released map shows Curiosity’s traverse through Sol 1677.

Ten mile map.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/University of Arizona

This map shows the route driven by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity through the 1677 Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission on Mars, as of April 25, 2017.

Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up. The scale bar is 1 kilometer (roughly 0.62 mile).

From Sol 1676 to Sol 1677, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 108.88 feet (33.19 meters), bringing the rover’s total odometry for the mission to 10.01 miles (16.12 kilometers).

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

Leave a Reply