Clouds float over “Mont Mercou,”captured by Curiosity Right Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 3072, March 28, 2021
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 3074 tasks.

The forecast is in! There’s a high chance of clouds at “Mont Mercou!”

That’s the report from Catherine O’Connell-Cooper, a planetary geologist at the University of New Brunswick; Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera Sol 3073 March 29, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“We are finishing up at the ‘Nontron’ drill locale and moving onto the next stage of investigating the beautiful Mont Mercou outcrop,” O’Connell-Cooper adds.

Mars researchers are continuing their usual cadence of looking at compositions and textures of the rover’s surroundings, using both the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) and Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) to investigate the bedrock target “Bara Bahau.”

Curiosity Rear Hazard Avoidance Camera Left B image acquired on Sol 3073, March 29, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Rumination about laminations

Before the robot moves onward, Mastcam is taking another opportunity to get close-up imaging of the extensive laminations on the cliff face, likely the last time the rover will be as close to the feature.

In a recently scripted plan, Curiosity is to drive around to the east side of the cliff and get into position to take Mastcam images of that side.

“Once we have documented that side, we will drive back across the front of the outcrop and image the western side,” O’Connell-Cooper explains. “This will provide us with a unique 3-D perspective on this cliff and will hopefully help our scientists to understand how this amazing outcrop formed.”

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Right B image taken on Sol 3073, March 29, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


Twilight cloud movie

The Environmental Theme Group (ENV) and Mastcam planned another twilight cloud movie for sol 3074, similar to that on sol 3072, which resulted in the incredible image of clouds above Mont Mercou.

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used two cameras to create this selfie in front of Mont Mercou, a rock outcrop that stands 20 feet (6 meters) tall. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

“We are at the beginning of Gale crater’s cloudy season, and in the middle of a period where the potential for the formation of twilight clouds is higher than usual. ENV are taking advantage of this to observe and analyze clouds and cloud formations,” O’Connell-Cooper concludes.

Meanwhile, JPL has issued a set of new images that dramatically show the rover’s current whereabouts. Curiosity used its Mastcam instrument to produce these striking images and a panorama. 
Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used its Mastcam instrument to take the 126 individual images that make up this 360-degree panorama.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Leave a Reply