Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Right B image taken on Sol 2598, November 27, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2599 duties, ready for a “feast for the eyes” during Sols 2600-2603.

“Curiosity will be gorging on a feast of data this holiday weekend,” reports Melissa Rice, a planetary geologist at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.

Curiosity Right Navigation Camera Right B photo acquired on Sol 2598, November 27, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“We plan to acquire over 12,000 Mb of data in the four sols covering the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, which could be a new record for the mission,” adds Rice. The rover will be “stuffed,” and scientists will be digesting the results for months to come.

Curiosity Mast Camera Right photo taken on Sol 2597, November 26, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Main dish

Rice explains: “The main dish is an enormous color image mosaic. To capture the full 360 degrees of terrain surrounding the rover, Curiosity will take 850 individual images with each of its Mastcam cameras. It will take roughly eight hours to capture all of those images, so to spread out the work over multiple sols, we have divided the full scene into four segments.”

Curiosity Mast Camera Right photo taken on Sol 2597, November 26, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Scientists will capture each segment around local noon so that the lighting will be consistent, Rice notes, which will make it easier to stitch all of the individual pieces together into a seamless panoramic image.

 

Final product, side dishes

“We included the first segment in the previous plan for sols 2597-2599, and this weekend we will capture the last three segments,” Rice reports. “The final product will be a sight to behold: a gigapixel stereo image of dramatic desert landscape, with buttes of crumbling sandstone in the foreground and Mt. Sharp towering in the distance.”

Curiosity Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam)Remote Micro Imager (RMI) photo acquired on Sol 2598, November 27, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Side dishes at Curiosity’s feast, Rice adds, include Navcam images looking towards the horizon to search for dust devils, and close-up investigations of two rock targets using the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) and Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) instruments: one named “Inverurie” with a rough texture, and another named “Latheron” with a smoother, layered texture.

Curiosity Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam)Remote Micro Imager (RMI) photo acquired on Sol 2598, November 27, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Dessert serving

On sol 2602, Curiosity is slated to drive closer to the base of Western Butte. “Then for dessert, we will use the APXS instrument overnight to monitor the concentration of argon in Mars’ atmosphere,” Rice says. After such an overindulgence, on sol 2603 Curiosity will do the rover equivalent of laying comatose on the couch: a full sol of sitting still and monitoring the weather with the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) instrument.

“We have quite a lot to be thankful for this holiday weekend! November 26 marks the eight-year anniversary of Curiosity’s launch in 2011. After more than seven years of exploring Mars, our rover is still strong and healthy and the views just keep getting better,” Rice concludes.

Late afternoon of Sol 2595. Mosaic of twelve NavCam Gauche pictures taken on sol 2595 at approximately 16h30 local time.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Thomas Appéré

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