Curiosity’s location as of Sol 3483. Distance driven at that sol: 17.39 miles/27.98 kilometers.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona


NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at Gale Crater is now performing Sol 3485 tasks.

Mars researchers have been savoring imagery from the rover, “greeted with a beautiful vista, with well preserved layering and amazing outcrops, and a reminder of just how stunning the planet Mars is,” reports Catherine O’Connell-Cooper, a planetary geologist at the University of New Brunswick; Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

Curiosity Mastcam image showing some of the rover’s surroundings. Image taken on Sol 3478, May 19, 2022
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

“Mastcam takes a 360 degree image on a regular basis, and our last one was fairly recently, on sol 3474, but given the stunning views from here, it was suggested that we take another here if we could fit it in,” O’Connell-Cooper adds.

Curiosity Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) photo taken on Sol 3483, May 24, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Gnarly-looking nodules

At the robot’s exploration site, the bedrock is rough, with larger “gnarly” looking nodules or lumps of material, and smaller exposures of nodular free, laminated bedrock. A smooth spot was identified that was just large enough to brush on the laminated material, so the rover’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) was set to analyze the brushed surface at “Bamboo Creek” and the unbrushed surface at “Maple Creek.”

Curiosity’s Dust Removal Tool taken by Mast Camera (Mastcam) Right on Sol 3483, May 24, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

“Pairing targets like this is very beneficial to APXS, allowing us to compare adjacent compositions and to determine if compositional trends are ‘real’ or if dust buildup is obscuring some of the more subtle trends,” O’Connell-Cooper explains.

Curiosity Mast Camera (Mastcam) Left image taken on Sol 3481, May 22, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Long distance imaging

The Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) was slated to use its Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument to look at the chemistry of Bamboo Creek, and Mastcam is scheduled to use multispectral imaging to look at the brushed spot.

An investigation of the nodular-rich bedrock was to be performed.

The rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) is on tap to take a suite of images on one of the largest features “Apoteri,” whilst ChemCam and Mastcam take aim at “El Gato.” ChemCam will use the long distance imaging (RMI) to look at some possible Prow-like material in the distance, O’Connell-Cooper reports.

Curiosity Mast Camera (Mastcam) Left image acquired on Sol 3483, May 25, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Full list of activities

Mastcam has a full list of activities, looking at more possible Prow-like lens material (at “Sierra Maigualida”) in the distance, and characterizing sedimentary structures near the rover (at “Ampa,”) in addition to imaging of Mirador butte and the cliffs to the east of Mirador.

“There is also a special Mastcam multispectral sunset image, timed to document the brightness of the sky when the sun is at a low angle,” O’Connell-Cooper concludes. “But despite this heavy load, the views were just too good to pass up, so Mastcam will get that 360 image here too – keep your eyes peeled for that image!”


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