Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager photos produced on Sol 2926, October 29, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2927 tasks.

The rover is busily studying a rock formation called “Hedgehope Hill” reports Catherine O’Connell-Cooper, a planetary geologist at the University of New Brunswick; Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

“Hedgehope Hill” is visible on the upper left of this image taken Curiosity’s Mast Camera on Sol 2924, October 27.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

“Sometimes in geology, as in life, it helps to look at the same thing from different perspectives,” O’Connell-Cooper says. Accordingly, a new plan calls for the robot to get very close to “Maybole” – the first of a series of resistant elongated rock features that are called “benches” in this area, and then pulling way back and looking again.

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Left B Camera image taken on Sol 2926, October 29, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

 

 

 

Sequence of images

A newly scripted rover plan has the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) acquiring a series of 15 images, focused on “Hedgehope Hill”

This sequence of images — known affectionately as a “MAHLI Dog’s Eye” — O’Connell-Cooper adds, will allow the compilation of a mosaic 40-centimeter long, at a standoff (distance from the rock surface) of 15-20 centimeters, which will yield a wealth of detailed information.

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera photo taken on Sol 2926, October 29, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

“Using the mosaic, sedimentologists can determine details about everything from grain sizes and shapes to small scale sedimentary structures in this laminated rock,” O’Connell-Cooper notes.

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera photo taken on Sol 2926, October 29, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Drive to new location

Then, once the rover finishes up other objectives, it is slated to drive around 130 feet (40 meters) to a new location for the weekend, where Mastcam will image Maybole and the area to its east.

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera photo taken on Sol 2926, October 29, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera photo taken on Sol 2926, October 29, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Combining both the very detailed mosaic and the longer distance imagery will help us to understand the stratigraphy and to hopefully gain valuable insights into the evolution of these resistant bench features,” O’Connell-Cooper explains.

That mosaic will take a full hour to acquire, and Mars researchers had to practice restraint for the rest of the plan.

Survey the workspace

Other planned duties are active Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) analysis on two targets: “Tingwall” towards the top of the Maybole ledge and “Ting” towards the bottom.

The robot’s Mastcam will take further images of the Maybole outcrop, including documentation of the ChemCam targets.

Also on tap is taking standard Navcam dust devil movies and document the dust in the atmosphere, via a Mastcam tau (opacity) measurement.

“At our new location for the weekend, Mastcam and Navcam will survey the workspace, getting post-drive workspace imagery to facilitate science observations in the weekend plan,” O’Connell-Cooper concludes.

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