Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 1578, January 13, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is working through a roster of science duties on Sol 1579.

Rover scientists have put together a 4-sol plan following a drive of the robot of over 80-feet (25-meters) across the Red Planet’s landscape.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 1578, January 13, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Curiosity is surrounded by more dark sand than usual, but there is enough rock exposed that we had a lot of science targets to choose from,” reports Ken Herkenhoff at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Given the upcoming holiday on Monday, a 4 sol plan has been scripted: Sols 1579-1582.

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1577, January 12, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Laser zapping

The first sol will include only Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) atmospheric observations while the rover recharges after a Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite methane measurement the night before.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo acquired on Sol 1578, January 13, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The Sol 1580 plan starts with Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) passive (no laser) measurements of the sky and calibration targets.

“Then we’ll use the laser to zap rock targets “Oak Bay” and “Rockport” and take Right Mastcam images of them,” Herkenhoff notes.


Bedrock exposures

The rover’s Mastcam is also to acquire a mosaic of bedrock exposures just west of the rover, measure dust in the atmosphere, and take another image of the rover deck.

Later that afternoon, the plan calls for ChemCam and Right Mastcam observations of disturbed sand at “Kennebec,” an undisturbed ripple called “Spruce Top,” and bedrock targets named “Traveler” and “Mars Hill.”

Curiosity’s Right Mastcam is also to acquire a 3×1 mosaic of a more distant outcrop dubbed “Ogler Point.”

Odd object imaged by Curiosity’s Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1577, January 12, 2017. Possibly new meteorite find?
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Contact science

Herkenhoff reports that Sol 1581 is dominated by contact science, starting with a full suite of Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) images of Mars Hill.

MAHLI will also take close-up images of nearby “Camera Hill” and acquire a 3-image mosaic of the layered outcrop target “Small Falls.”

The Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) is to be placed on Camera Hill for a short integration, then on Mars Hill for an overnight integration.


Drive planned

On Sol 1582, Navcam will search for clouds and dust devils before the rover drives away.

Following the drive, the Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science software, AEGIS for short, will again be used to autonomously select a ChemCam target and acquire data, and the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) is slated to take another image during twilight.

“Finally, the rover will get some well-earned rest overnight,” Herkenhoff concludes.

Curiosity Mars rover location as of Sol 1576.
Credit: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/Univ. of Arizona

New map

A new map has been issued showing the Curiosity rover’s location for Sol 1576.

The map shows the route driven by the robot through the 1576 Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission on Mars (January 12, 2017).

Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up.

From Sol 1574 to Sol 1576, Curiosity has driven a straight line distance of about 96.45 feet (29.40 meters). Since touching down in Bradbury Landing in August 2012, Curiosity has driven 9.38 miles (15.10 kilometers).

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

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