Curiosity’s Location as of Sol 3049. Distance driven 15.46 miles/24.88 kilometers.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at Gale Crater has just started Sol 3061 assignments.

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Left B image acquired on Sol 3060, March 16, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The rover is continuing its drill campaign at “Nontron” and preparing the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite to study a new specimen later this week reports Scott Guzewich, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera photo taken on Sol 3060, March 16, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

While that’s ongoing, Guzewich adds, the robot’s Mastcam will take a sure-to-be-spectacular 360° mosaic and the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) will study the Mont Mercou cliff in front of the rover, including a target called “Font de Gaume.”

“Font de Gaume cave in France is home to stunning paleolithic cave art of bison, reindeer, and other Ice Age wildlife painted 19-27,000 years ago,” Guzewich explains. “Even that length of time, at least 15,000 years before the pyramids were built in Egypt, is barely 0.0005% of the time back to when Gale Crater formed on Mars.”

Curiosity Mast Camera Right image taken on Sol 3059, March 15, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Eons of time

The mind of humans don’t easily comprehend the vast eons of time that separate us from the places we explore in space with robots like Curiosity, Guzewich writes. “Our minds are designed to think in terms of hours, days, seasons, and years, extending up to a duration of our lifetime and perhaps those a few generations before us,” he adds.

Curiosity Chemistry & Camera Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) photo acquired on Sol 3060, March 16, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

 

 

“When we explore Mars, we’re roving over rocks that formed billions of years ago and many of which have been exposed on the surface for at least tens or hundreds of millions of years. It’s a gap of time that we can understand numerically, but there’s no way to have an innate feel for the incredible ancientness of the planet and Gale Crater,” Guzewich concludes.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera photo taken on Sol 3060, March 16, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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