Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1485, October 9, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1485, October 9, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Curiosity rover has officially chalked up over nine miles of driving since landing on Mars in August 2012.

Now in Sol 1489, the word is that the Mars machinery has wheeled itself up nearly 330 feet (100 meters) of Mount Sharp.

Up and Climbing

Curiosity has reached an elevation that is 100 meters above the Confidence Hills site, where it first encountered the Murray formation.

“That means that in the last two years we’ve climbed through 100 meters of stratigraphy forming the base of Mount Sharp,” notes Lauren Edgar, a research geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Edgar calls the ascension “amazing progress,” and adds: “Keep climbing Curiosity!”

New drill site

The current plan for rover work is focused on bumping to a next drill location as the robot continues to systematically sample the Murray formation.

Curiosity Navcam Right B image taken on Sol 1487, October 12, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Navcam Right B image taken on Sol 1487, October 12, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

That two-sol plan includes a Curiosity Mastcam look at crater rim extinction to measure atmospheric opacity, Edgar notes. Then Curiosity will acquire several Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) observations of the targets “Sangwali,” “Orapa,” and “Katima Mulilo” to assess the composition of the local bedrock.

Also on tap is acquisition of two Mastcam mosaics to characterize the lamination style in the Murray. “Then we’ll drive to the intended drill location, and take post-drive imaging to prepare for contact science and drill activities,” Edgar adds. “We’ll also squeeze in a ChemCam calibration activity in the afternoon.”

Rim watch

Sol 1490 is to be relatively quiet, Edgar points out, with a Navcam observation to look for clouds above the north rim of the crater and a Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) image to document the terrain post-drive.

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1487, October 12, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1487, October 12, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

“We’re keeping it light on data volume to prepare for all of the drill activities,” Edgar explains.

From Sol 1485 to Sol 1487, Curiosity drove a straight line distance of about 57.30 feet (17.46 meters).

As of October, 12, 2016 – since touching down on Mars in August 2012 — Curiosity has driven 9.01 miles (14.51 kilometers).

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