Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1509, November 3, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1509, November 3, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now in Sol 1512

After driving over 130 feet (40 meters) on Sol 1509, the Mars machinery is carrying out a 3-sol weekend plan.

“There are a couple of good-sized outcrops in the arm workspace, so we’re planning contact science on Sol 1511,” reported Ken Herkenhoff of the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 1511 November 5, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 1511, November 5, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Brush off

On the schedule is for the rover’s Navcam to first look for clouds and the Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) to observe bedrock targets named “Pemetic,” “Jordan Pond,” and “Penobscot.”

The rover’s Right Mastcam was slated to image Jordan Pond, Pemetic, and the ChemCam target selected by special software on Sol 1509, and acquire a 9×3 mosaic of sedimentary structures southwest of the rover.

Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image taken on Sol 1511, November 5, 2016 Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image taken on Sol 1511, November 5, 2016
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Later that afternoon, the Dirt Removal Tool (DRT) was to brush off Penobscot and Curiosity’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) was to image the brushed spot and Pemetic from 25, 5 and 1 centimeter.

Wheel inspection

The rover’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) was on tap to be placed on Pemetic for a pair of integrations that evening, then placed on Penobscot for an overnight integration.

On Sol 1512, the Mars masterplan was to use Curiosity’s Mastcam to acquire a 5×4 stereo mosaic of the outcrop around Penobscot and a multispectral observation of the brushed spot.

Next on the schedule was for the robot’s MAHLI to image the rover wheels at 5 locations separated by small “bumps” to monitor wheel wear.

Potential touch and go

“Then it’s time for another drive and the post-drive imaging needed for a potential ‘touch and go’ on Sol 1514,” says Herkenhoff.

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1509, November 3, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1509, November 3, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity’s Sol 1513 is to start with another ChemCam observation and Mastcam measurements of atmospheric dust opacity.

Finally, the robot’s Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin) is slated to read out the data resulting from the recent analysis of empty sample cells and the robot’s Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) is to acquire an image during twilight.

Well-earned rest

“The rover will then get some well-earned rest and charge her batteries overnight,” Herkenhoff concludes.

As always, dates of planned rover activities are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Exploration map

A new Curiosity traverse map has been issued, noting the rover’s exploration route after landing in August 2012 through Sol 1509, November 4, 2016.

As of that Sol, Curiosity has driven 9.22 miles (14.83 kilometers).

Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up. The scale bar is 1 kilometer (roughly 0.62 mile).

From Sol 1508 to Sol 1509, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 125.75 feet (38.33 meters), bringing the rover’s total odometry for the mission to 9.22 miles (14.83 kilometers).

The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Leave a Reply