NASA's Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm, on May 29, 2016, Sol 1355. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm, on May 29, 2016, Sol 1355.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Now in Sol 1356 on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover recently completed a drive, placing it on a “nice patch of the Murray formation,” reports Ryan Anderson, a planetary scientist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.

That drive put the Mars robot in a good position for a very busy holiday weekend of tasks.

The Murray formation is a section of rock, 500 feet high, that represents the lowest sedimentary layers of nearby Aeolis Mons, commonly known as Mount Sharp.

Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image acquired on Sol 1356, May 30, 2016 Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image acquired on Sol 1356, May 30, 2016
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

Targets documented

On Sol 1355, the plan called for the Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam)

To make observations of the targets: “Auchas”, “Kaisosi”, “Inamagando”, and “Horingbaai”.

The rover’s Mastcam was slated to document those targets and then do some multispectral observations of the targets “Kunjas” and “Navachab”, plus a mosaic of the contact between the Murray and Stimson geological units, Anderson explains.

Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) Remote Micro-Imager photo taken from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 1356, May 30, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) Remote Micro-Imager photo taken from NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 1356, May 30, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Curiosity’s Navcam was to round out the science block with some atmospheric observations.

 

Image from orbit of Curiosity

“Sol 1356 was an unusual one, with a bunch of small science blocks spread throughout the day,” Anderson notes. These were to enable a series of measurements leading up to a coordinated set of observations in the afternoon between the instruments on the rover and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Adds Anderson: “Yes, this means a new [Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter] HiRISE image of Curiosity is coming soon!”

Brightness changes

First thing in the morning on Sol 1356, Curiosity’s Mastcam and Navcam have a photometry observation. This was to be repeated a few hours later along with a multispectral Mastcam observation of the target “Inamagando”.

A few hours later, the photometry observation is repeated again. “The idea is to see how the brightness changes as the sun angle changes,” Anderson observes, and ChemCam is to make a passive sky observation.

Finally, there is another photometry observation, a Mastcam “sky survey” observation, and Mastcam “sky flats”. These are to be followed by a long-distance ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo shoot.

Curiosity image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm, taken on May 30, 2016, Sol 1356. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm, taken on May 30, 2016, Sol 1356.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Next drive

“On Sol 1357 we will drive again, followed by standard post-drive imaging. This plan will take us through the long weekend, so our next planning day will be on Tuesday,” Anderson concludes.

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

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