Mastcam Left image of ridge, taken on Sol 1732, Jume 20, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Now in Sol 1739, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover presses onward to Vera Rubin Ridge reports Abigail Fraeman, a planetary geologist at NASA/JPL in Pasadena, California.

This past weekend, Curiosity continued to journey east along the contact between the lower portion of Vera Rubin Ridge and the Murray formation with a drive that was a little over 65 feet (20 meters) long.

Two sols of planning — Sol 1739 and Sol 1740 — are in the works.

Mastcam Left photo taken on Sol 1737, June 25, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Continuing quest

On the first sol, the robot’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) and Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) are slated to make observations of a target named “Rice Point,” Fraeman notes, “in our continuing quest to characterize the variability of typical Murray bedrock as we ascend Mt. Sharp.”

Also in the planning are remote sensing observations to document changes in texture and chemistry of the rocks in front of Curiosity, as well as some nearby sand.

Mastcam Left photo taken on Sol 1737, June 25, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Color documentation

Curiosity’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) observations are to be made of targets named “Hamilton Pond,” “Whalesback,” and Rice Point. Associated Mastcam images will provide color documentation of the ChemCam targets, as well as Mastcam observations of “Fosters Brook” and “Skillings River.”

“After our morning science block will we continue on our way east towards the location where we can ascend Vera Rubin Ridge,” Fraeman adds.

Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B image taken on Sol 1737, June 25, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Post drive, the rover will take a ChemCam AEGIS (Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science) observation and a special stowed MAHLI observation looking back towards Aeolis Palus to document the landscape Curiosity has traversed across.

Spectacular views

On the second sol of the plan, Navcam observations will characterize properties of the atmosphere and to search for dust devils.

“All of the data from our second imaging stop back on Sol 1734 finished coming down over the weekend,” Fraeman points out, “and they continue to show spectacular views of vertical bedrock exposures.”

Those images are being analyzed to understand the nature of the geologic contact between Vera Rubin Ridge and the Murray formation, as well as the environments that deposited the layers that make up the lower ridge.

Navcam Right B image taken on Sol 1737, June 25, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech



Imaging campaign

“We have been utilizing several of Curiosity’s cameras to help with this imaging campaign. We took untargeted, post-drive Mastcam left eye images the sol before the main imaging sol to get a good context and to help us refine pointing for the Mastcam right eye images, which have higher spatial resolution but smaller fields of view,” Fraeman notes.

“We also took pictures of select sections of the area with the ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) that have even higher spatial resolution than the Mastcam right images, but which are black and white only. The science team will use all of these data to perform our analyses,” Fraeman concludes.

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