Archive for September, 2021

A new study appraises the wide swath of space technology trends and strategic financial insights – including space health, off-planet construction to private spaceflight, space solar power and space settlement.

The 240-page case study is the work of SpaceTech Analytics (STA), a strategic analytics agency focused on markets in the space exploration, spaceflight, space medicine, and satellite tech industries.

The study is targeted for investors, entrepreneurs, and stakeholders with the goal to raise the education level of those who are not already space technology experts.

Credit: STA

Key takeaways

In an STA press statement, some of the study takeaways include the following:

— Small satellites are actively expanding in the SpaceTech market. Small satellites are very light and may mass as little as 30 kg. Unfortunately, it is not generally affordable and reasonable to launch one small satellite. However, launching dozens or hundreds of satellites reduces costs significantly, which makes launches more accessible. On January 24th 2021, SpaceX set a record and launched 143 satellites on a single rocket for $57M on a Falcon 9.

Credit: Astrobotic

— Today, commercial space transportation is the primary means of delivery to Earth orbit. Soon, this will include commercial in-space transportation systems and their support infrastructure. There are commercial in-space transportation companies now. Today, one can book payload delivery to the Moon on expendable commercial lunar landers with Astrobotic for $1.2M per kilogram.

— Space is becoming relatively more accessible and affordable, allowing smaller countries to launch satellites with less effort and fewer resources. As a result, many countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia have begun developing space technologies. For example, Kenya and Bahrain have joined the list of countries operating satellites.

Lunar resources

The study also provides insights into tapping the Moon’s resources and underscores that space medicine is a new frontier sector. Takeaways include:

Using local resources on the Moon can help make future crewed missions more sustainable and affordable.
Credit: RegoLight, visualization: Liquifer Systems Group, 2018

— Potential lunar resources may encompass materials that can be processed such as volatiles and minerals and geologic structures such as lava tubes that together might enable lunar habitation. The industrial development of asteroids involves extracting raw materials on asteroids and space bodies in the asteroid belt and especially in near-Earth space (in terms of velocity to get to them).

— Space Medicine is a new frontier sector along with longevity. Long-duration spaceflight needs to be investigated more thoroughly. It is known that weightlessness influences muscle loss, bone loss, renal dysfunction, cardiovascular system, immune system, as well different neurological disorders and behavioral health. This will likely change in the coming era of space tourism.

To access this detailed, informative study, go to:



China’s lander and Yutu-2 rover have worked for 1,000 Earth days on the lunar farside, according to the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

Chang’e-4 lander and Yutu-2 rover. Images of each other taken by the respective machinery.

The lander, rover, and payloads are reportedly in good condition.

As of Wednesday, Yutu-2 has traveled 2,754 feet (840 meters) and obtained 3,632.01 gigabytes (GB) of data.


The Chang’e-4 probe, launched on December 8, 2018, making the first-ever soft landing within the Von Kármán Crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the Moon’s farside on January 3, 2019.

Von Kármán crater as viewed by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Credit: Piplsay


Over the past few years, UFOs have earned air time on primetime news and Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAPs) have appeared in front-page stories published by The New York Times.

Question: What has happened in the last few years to bring these kinds of stories back to mainstream national attention?

A recent panel held as part of a two-day Future Security Forum co-hosted by Arizona State University (ASU) and New America on Sept. 13 and 14 explored this topic.

Credit: DOD/U.S. Navy/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Serious reports

ASU has released a press statement on the meeting, detailing aspects the segment on UFOs/UAPs:

“For a long time the feeling of the military between 1947 and roughly 1953 was this is a very tense post-war moment, the beginning of the Cold War. … It seemed very possible that foreign adversaries like the Soviets had developed craft that could easily outmaneuver us and travel several times faster than the speed of sound, and so it was a very real concern that there were things in our airspace that we couldn’t account for,” said Gideon Lewis-Kraus, 2017 national fellow at New America and staff writer for The New Yorker.

“But the point was serious reports were coming in from credible people, people like military pilots, civilian pilots. There were hundreds of these (reports) coming into the Air Force every year. So, the feeling was something had to be done about the fact that all of these strange sightings were happening.”

Credit: DOD/U.S. Navy/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Countervailing tendencies

Lewis-Kraus added that, on the other hand, the U.S. wanted to project a powerful image of itself and not acknowledge things that it didn’t understand — UFOs — were entering its airspace, causing American officials’ opinions on the matter to split.

“There was also the feeling that we could not show that we were ignorant of stuff going on in our airspace, we couldn’t show that there were repeated incursions into our airspace, potentially by adversaries that we couldn’t account for — and especially in the early moments of the Cold War, we never wanted to project that kind of weakness,” Lewis-Kraus said.

“So, there were two countervailing tendencies among officials. There was the feeling we should take weird things seriously because it’s the only way we’re going to learn there’s stuff going on that’s beyond our ken, and on the other hand, we need to prevent people from taking weird things too seriously or it’ll look like no one’s minding the store.”

Credit: Amazon

Mainstream media

These differing approaches on addressing UFO sightings ultimately culminated in congressional hearings in the 1960s and the publication of a report, “Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects,” which dismissed the phenomenon, despite the government still keeping track of UFO sightings unbeknownst to the general public.

“To some extent, the history of this time shows that UFO conspiracy theories aren’t totally wrong to believe that there was in fact a concerted effort to get people not to take this stuff seriously, and it worked. After about 1970, that’s when you start seeing the mainstream media making fun of these things — you see most official announcements making fun of these things,” Lewis-Kraus said.

“But at the same time, behind the scenes, you still have people taking it seriously because the concerns about potential national security implications never went away. So, the decision was in public we still need to project strength, we need to show we know what’s going on and that we’re never left puzzled by flying enigmas.”

One possible reason that stories of UFO sightings are now appearing on mainstream outlets more frequently is because of increased interest among a new generation of officials.

“There’s no reason to believe that our high-ranking government officials, both elected and in the military, are prone to have more reasonable, rational beliefs than the rest of us,” Lewis-Kraus said. “The sort of cynical answer is well, lots of people are interested in UFOs, so this [is] a matter of a few kind of ‘UFO nuts’ who managed to end up in positions of power where they could fund UFO studies.”

Credit: DARPA

Drone swarms

Another reason for the increase in dialogue around UFO sightings: the widespread adoption and deployment of drone technology.

“It’s no surprise that this has coincided with the early years of widespread drone deployment, and increasingly over the last couple years, there’s definitely some evidence that at least some of these mysterious UFO sightings over our carrier groups probably represented drone swarms,” Lewis-Kraus said.

“And so then the balance that had set the taboo in motion began to shift, that all of the sudden it seemed less important for us to emphasize that we knew everything that was going on in the air and a little bit more important for us to say, ‘Look, if we’re hearing weird things from our pilots, we might need to concede our puzzlement in public in order to make sure that we are getting good information from the people who are on the front lines to tell us what’s going on.’”

But the government’s ambivalence about publicizing UFO sightings is unlikely to change anytime soon.

“There’s always this question of to what extent do you want to leave yourself open and vulnerable by saying that you don’t know what’s going on,” he said. “And I think that the UFO story is a great case study in why exactly we would admit uncertainty and ambivalence and why we would hide that uncertainty and ambivalence.”

Go to this YouTube at:

Go to: 4:27:20



I am very pleased to report that the SPACE 3.0 Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in Bethesda, Maryland, has awarded a “One Small Step” grant to Leonard David of Space Data Resources and Information.

The grant is centered on performing select oral history interviews focused on entrepreneurial and commercial space activities for the Foundation’s Space Business & Commerce Archives.

“While NASA has done an excellent job at documenting its activities and actions via oral histories with key management, staff, and the astronauts and program managers, there remains a great need to capture the experiences and perspectives of space entrepreneurs and visionaries,” said Scott Sacknoff, the Foundation’s chair, in a statement.

This is the first “One Small Step” grant recipient focused on performing oral histories in this area, Sacknoff added.

Funded projects

Other projects funded by SPACE 3.0 in recent months include: a grant to the New Mexico Museum of Space History to digitize human spaceflight films from the 1960s, the acquisition of 50,000+ high-resolution images from the human spaceflight program for its space archives, and digitization of the privately published magazine, Space World, which ran from 1960-1988.

SPACE 3.0 has reserved funds to award more grants this calendar year and also is seeking sponsors for the collection of additional oral histories to be performed.

For more information on the Foundation, go to:



Remote viewing – image of low, sandy hills. There are higher hills in the horizon. This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3247 September 24, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at Gale Crater is now performing Sol 3251 duties.

Reports Michelle Minitti, a planetary geologist at Framework in Silver Spring, Maryland: “Solar conjunction is once again upon us – the time when the Sun comes between Mars and Earth in their orbital dances and precludes reliable communication between us and our robotic friends.”

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Left B image taken on Sol 3251, September 28, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Since landing in August 2012, this will be the fifth conjunction Curiosity has experienced, “and such a regular, cosmic event like conjunction provides the perfect time to reflect,” Minitti adds, “where were we the last time Mars, Earth and the Sun aligned like this?”

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera photo taken on Sol 3250, September 27, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scrapbook memories

Minitti says that looking back over what Curiosity researchers were up to around each conjunction “is very much like looking through a scrapbook of memories.”

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image acquired on Sol 3251, September 28, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

  • First conjunction, starting on Sol 236 (April 2013), fresh off the excitement of finding evidence of a habitable environment in our first drill sample “John Klein,” and still feeling the relief of having survived a major fault with the A side computer. Curiosity runs on the B side computer to this day.
  • Second conjunction, on Sol 1004 (May 2015), we had just passed the Sol 1000 milestone and had completed walkabout exploration (on our beat up wheels) of “Pahrump Hills,” the lowest exposed section of Mount Sharp. There we collected three samples of the mudstone-dominated Murray formation. We parked for conjunction at a contact between the Murray formation and another major formation, the Stimson, an aeolian sandstone deposit. Curiosity has continued to encounter variations of both formations throughout her exploration of Gale.
  • Third conjunction started on Sol 1756 (July 2017), and we found ourselves sitting on the Murray formation just north of “Vera Rubin Ridge,” looking up at its enticing layering and color variations. Leading up to that point, we had sampled our way across the Stimson-capped “Naukluft Plateau,” maneuvered through the Stimson-capped “Murray Buttes,” and were systematically sampling the Murray formation when the drill fell out of commission. The loss of the ability to drill and deliver sample to the Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin) and the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite was a blow, but the team, to borrow from our sister rover, persevered to continue building the story of the rocks of Gale with the rest of the payload.
  • Fourth conjunction on Sol 2506 (August 2019), Mars investigators had made it up and down Vera Rubin Ridge multiple times and into the clay-bearing “Glen Torridon” region. Our multiple traverses across the ridge were not just for exploration. Since the previous conjunction, the engineers invented a new way to use the drill to once again allow us to collect samples. We revisited terrain to gather samples where it was not previously possible, and gratefully sampled our way into Glen Torridon, We acquired sample #22, the clay-bearing “Glen Etive” sample, right before conjunction. In the midst of all the exploration and sampling, Curiosity also survived a near-global dust storm!
  • Fifth conjunction upcoming has the rover sitting just a few meters away from its 33rd drill hole, ”Maria Gordon,” in the shadow of the western side of the “Greenheugh Pediment.” We successfully “summited” the northern edge of the pediment since last conjunction, allowing us to cross over, sample, and analyze yet another (but higher!) Murray-Stimson contact.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera photo taken on Sol 3251, September 28, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“We hope to climb up onto the pediment again as we make our way from the clay-rich rocks of the Glen Torridon region toward the anticipated sulfate-rich layers of Mount Sharp above,” Minitti notes. “But for the next few weeks, we will simply pause, look across the view…and appreciate how much we have done and how far we have come.”

Credit: U.S. Space Force

A “No Militarization of Space Act” has been introduced, centered on abolishing the U.S. Space Force.

Calling the Space Force “costly and unnecessary,” Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) the Act is timed as Congress moves to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual bill that authorizes funding for the Pentagon.

“The long-standing neutrality of space has fostered a competitive, non-militarized age of exploration every nation and generation has valued since the first days of space travel,” Huffman says in a statement. “But since its creation under the former Trump administration, the Space Force has threatened longstanding peace and flagrantly wasted billions of taxpayer dollars.”

President Donald Trump signs S.1790, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 on, Friday, Dec. 20, 2019 at Joint Base Andrews. The act directed the establishment of the U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.
Credit: Airman 1st Class Spencer Slocum, 11th Wing Public Affairs

Taxpayer boondoggle

The lawmaker says that the Space Force has quickly become a taxpayer boondoggle “that adds layers of bureaucracy and waste to an already-bloated defense budget.”

Huffman was joined in the introduction by Representatives Mark Pocan (WI-02), Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), and Maxine Waters (CA-43).

This legislation is endorsed by Taxpayers for Common Sense, National Taxpayers Union, Peace Action, R Street Institute, and Demand Progress.

General Jay Raymond the first Chief of Space Operations and first member of the Space Force.

Bureaucratic confusion

The U.S. Space Force was established on December 20, 2019 with enactment of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.

Huffman’s website notes that the U.S. military spending topped nearly $704 billion dollars in fiscal year 2021, including $15.5 billion for the Space Force. The Space Force unnecessarily duplicates much of the existing work within the Air Force including that of Space Command, thereby creating “bureaucratic confusion and further waste and risking American and allied national security,” the website adds.

To view H. R. 5335 “To abolish the Space Force as an Armed Force, and for other purposes,” go to:

Illustration of the EscaPADE spacecraft in orbit around Mars.
Credits: Rocket Lab USA/UC Berkeley



While space officials at NASA, the European Space Agency, as well as planners in China plot out ultra-expensive and complicated missions to return samples from the Red Planet, there are an increasing number of Mars researchers blueprinting low-cost and novel ways to further explore the multifaceted planet.

Next up on Mars? One idea is this Mars aerial craft – the Hexacopter.
Credit: Theodore Tzanetos/NASA/JPL-Caltech

Be it via souped-up helicopters to inexpensive landers and orbiters, they say it’s time to script new ways to gather more data from a variety of places on that remote world.

Part lander, part shock absorber in one is the Small High Impact Energy Landing Device (SHIELD) concept.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech





















Go to my new story for more details:

Mars on the cheap: Scientists working to revolutionize access to the Red Planet – The concepts include souped-up Mars helicopters and inexpensive orbiters and landers.

Go to:

Credit: USRA/LPI

BTW: NASA’s Mars Exploration Program invites the Mars community, including scientists, engineers, technologists, and industry representatives, to a three-day workshop early next year to share ideas and approaches for low-cost exploration of the Red Planet.

For more information, go to:

As seen in the ultraviolet, Venus image taken by NASA’s Pioneer-Venus Orbiter in 1979.
Credit: NASA

The clouds of Venus are potentially amenable to the growth of microorganisms.

A new study points to photosynthesis that might occur around-the-clock in Venus’ clouds with the middle and lower clouds receiving similar solar energy as Earth’s surface.

Researchers report that photosynthesis may continue through the night due to thermal or infrared energy originating from the surface and the atmosphere. 

Credit: Rakesh Mogul, et al.

The study, “Potential for Phototrophy in Venus’ Clouds,” was led by Rakesh Mogul, professor of Biological Chemistry at Cal Poly Pomona. It was published online this week as part of an October 2021 special collection of the journal Astrobiology focused on the possible suitability of Venus’ clouds for microbial life, and the constraints that may prohibit life.

Acceptable range

“Our study provides tangible support for the potential for phototrophy and/or chemotrophy by microorganisms in Venus’ clouds,” said Mogul in a university release. 

“The acidity and water activity levels potentially fall within an acceptable range for microbial growth on Earth, while the constant illumination with limited UV suggests that Venus’ clouds could be hospitable for life,” Mogul explains. “We argue that Venus’ clouds, therefore, make a great target for habitability or life detection missions, like those currently planned for Mars and Europa.”

The study also found that after filtering through the Venusian atmosphere, sunlight gets scrubbed of much of the ultraviolet radiation (UV), which is harmful to life, as result of scattering and absorption, providing a benefit like Earth’s ozone layer.

Credit: Rakesh Mogul, et al.


Chemical conditions

Mogul and his team, using new interpretations to refractive index and radio occultation measurements obtained from Venus’ clouds, found that the chemical conditions of Venus’ clouds are potentially hospitable to microorganisms.

“We show that solar irradiances calculated across Venus’ clouds support the potential for Earth-like phototrophy and that treatment of Venus’ aerosols containing neutralized sulfuric acid favor a habitable zone,” the paper explains.

With a targeted launch for fiscal year 2030, NASA’s DAVINCI+ will send a probe to brave the high temperatures and pressures near Venus’ surface to explore the atmosphere from above the clouds to near the surface. During the final leg of its free-fall descent, the probe will capture images and chemistry measurements of the deepest atmosphere on Venus for the first time.
Credits: NASA GSFC visualization by CI Labs Michael Lentz and others


Upcoming missions

Given the set of Venus probes now on the books from NASA, Europe and perhaps Russia, could they help further life detection on that cloud-veiled world?

“The upcoming mass spectral experiments on DAVINCI could really help in detailing the chemical makeup of the clouds; which by inference could tell us more about the habitability-related parameters of acidity, water activity, and etc.,” Mogul told Inside Outer Space. “I think many of the future plans are still in flux, though I believe Rocket Lab is also discussing spectral measures to get chemical information regarding cloud composition. As for life detection at Venus, we’re probably a long ways away!”

The co-authors of the study are Sanjay S. Limaye (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Yeon Joo Lee (Technische Universitat Berlin, Berlin, Germany) and Michael J. Pasillas (Cal Poly Pomona).

To take a look at the paper — “Potential for Phototrophy in Venus’ Clouds” — go to:



Ready for her close-ups, Russian actress Yulia Peresild. Credit: Roscosmos/Inside Outer Space


That’s the upcoming scene onboard the International Space Station as Roscosmos commander Anton Shkaplerov, actress Yulia Peresild and movie director Klim Shipenko are ready for liftoff on October 5.

A Soyuz-2.1booster with the Soyuz MS-19 crewed spacecraft and ISS-66 expedition crew is scheduled to takeoff from Launchpad 31 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

The trio is flying to the ISS to make a scripted, feature film in space, with the production’s working title called “Challenge.” 

Off-planet plot

The film reportedly is focused on a female doctor, who by force of dramatic circumstances has one month to prepare for the flight and go to the ISS to complete an important task.

This movie is part of a joint scientific and educational project of Roscosmos, Channel One and Yellow, Black, White studio.

“The project will show that spaceflights are gradually becoming available not only for professionals, but also for a wider range of people,” according to Roscosmos. “For example, similar accelerated training of film cast will be needed in the future to send other specialists to orbit, including doctors and scientists.”

Actress Yulia Peresild, Roscosmos commander Anton Shkaplerov, and movie director Klim Shipenko, ready for liftoff on October 5. Credit: Roscosmos/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Taking their seats

The first day of training sessions at Baikonur Cosmodrome took place on September 19. Under the supervision of Roscosmos, the team tried on Sokol KV-2 spacesuits, leak tested them and took their seats in the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft, familiarizing themselves with the cargo placement in the living compartment and the descent capsule, worked equipment they will use onboard the ISS.

Additionally, the expedition participants trained on manual docking of the Soyuz MS crewed spacecraft to the Russian segment of the ISS, checked stowage with scientific equipment for space experiments, and practiced ballistic operations and other preparatory procedures.

Credit: Yellow, Black and White studio


They also visited the Baikonur Cosmodrome to complete prelaunch training.

TV/Film credits

Russian actress Yulia Peresild and award-winning director Klim Shipenko are reportedly in thumbs-up condition for the upcoming liftoff.

Shipenko directed Russia’s highest-ever grossing film Son of a Rich and 2019’s box office hit TEXT.

Yulia Peresild’s screen debut was the role of Natasha Kublakova in the television series Land, later acting in various drama film roles such as The Bride and The Edge.

Go to this Roscosmos video (in Russian) at:


The Sol 3247 drive went as planned, crushing and breaking nodules as shown above and right of center in this Navcam image.
Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 3247, September 24, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at Gale Crater is now performing Sol 3248 duties.

A Sol 3247 drive of the robot went as planned, crushing and breaking nodules as part of its duties, reports Ken Herkenhoff, a planetary geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image acquired on Sol 3247, September 24, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Fresh surfaces

“The fresh surfaces exposed by the rover wheels are high-priority contact science targets,” Herkenhoff adds, “but because solar conjunction is approaching, the arm will not be used in this 3-sol weekend plan [Sols 3248-3250] to ensure that it is in a safe configuration before we stand down from tactical operations while Mars goes behind the Sun as seen from Earth.”

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image acquired on Sol 3247, September 24, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Even though Mars will not pass directly behind the Sun, radio communications between Mars and Earth will be unreliable due to interference from the Sun’s corona, Herkenhoff points out. “However, remote sensing observations can be planned for this weekend, so the rover will be busy!”

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image acquired on Sol 3247, September 24, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Disturbed nodules

The Sol 3248 plan starts with a Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) observation of “Wolf Stone” to sample the chemical composition of a nodule that appears to have been scratched by the rover wheel.

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Left B image taken on Sol 3247, September 24, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

ChemCam and Mastcam will also measure the spectral reflectance of a cluster of disturbed nodules called “Helmsdale Boulder Beds” that is likely to be the target of contact science observations after solar conjunction, Herkenhoff adds.

Curiosity’s Mastcam will then acquire stereo images of three dark sandy targets named “Sandness Coast” that will be imaged again after solar conjunction to look for changes due to winds.

Curiosity Rear Hazard Avoidance Camera Right B photo taken on Sol 3247, September 24, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Clouds and dust

“Mastcam and Navcam will observe the sun and sky early and late in the afternoon, then early the next morning (Sol 3249) to look for clouds and measure changes in the amount of dust in the atmosphere,” Herkenhoff notes.

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image acquired on Sol 3247, September 24, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

ChemCam’s Remote Micro Imager (RMI) telescope and Mastcam will also acquire mosaics of the cliff toward the west when it will be nicely illuminated early in the morning.

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image acquired on Sol 3247, September 24, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Later that morning, Navcam will search for dust devils and ChemCam will fire its laser at ‘Clashach,’ another nodule that appears to have been scratched by the wheels,” Herkenhoff points out. “Then ChemCam will measure the composition of the atmosphere and Mastcam will acquire a 7×2 stereo mosaic of the nearby nodular bedrock.”

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image acquired on Sol 3247, September 24, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity’s Location as of Sol 3247. Distance driven to date: 16.39 miles/26.38 kilometers.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Rover deck

Overnight, the rover’s Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin) will analyze the cell that contained the most recent drill sample to confirm that the cell is now empty.

On Sol 3250, Curiosity’s Navcam will search for dust devils and image the rover deck to enable comparison with images taken after conjunction, to look for changes in the distribution of sand and dust on top of the rover.