Curiosity Left Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 2970. The ground under the robot’s wheels now has small pebbles and is generally smooth. But right ahead of the rover is a different unit with much larger blocks of rock that has a distinct “rubbly” texture in images from orbit.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2974 tasks.

The robot is currently sitting at the edge of two geologic units, and a newly formed plan was focused on helping find that boundary and begin to determine the differences between them, reports Scott Guzewich, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

According to the plan, after a quick touch-and-go on one of the pebbles nearby (“Torness”), the rover’s Mastcam will take a large stereo mosaic of the boundary between these two geologic units and its Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) device will target three nearby rocks for Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) analysis.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager photo produced on Sol 2972, December 15, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Left B image taken on Sol 2973, December 16, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Sand sheet

“Then we’ll perform a short drive — a “bump” in rover-speak — onto this rubbly unit where we’ll plan more contact science in Wednesday’s plan,” Guzewich adds.

Meanwhile, farther ahead is a large sand sheet that Curiosity will investigate after the New Year.

Environmental researchers are keeping an eye on dust devil activity over the sand sheet with two Navcam dust devil searches, Guzewich concludes.

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Right B photo acquired on Sol 2972, December 15, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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