Selfie satisfaction. Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo acquired on Sol 1943, January 23, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Over the weekend Curiosity completed a drive that took the robot to the very southern edge of Vera Rubin Ridge (VRR), reports Roger Wiens, a geochemist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. “So we have downhill slopes directly in front of and around the side of the rover, though we plan to continue exploring the ridge for a while,” he adds.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo acquired on Sol 1943, January 23, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The rover team is using the images gleaned over the weekend to look for potential geological relationships between VRR and the clay unit that lies south of it, explains Wiens.

New selfie coming!

A newly written plan calls for the rover to take its first selfie since Sol 1466 (at the Quela drill site) back in September, 2016, and with the Murray Buttes in the scene.

Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B image acquired on Sol 1943, January 23, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity’s to-do list also includes taking a close-up of the Remote Warm Electronics Box (RWEB) window that ChemCam looks out of – a check for dust. “So far the window has been very clean throughout the mission; this is just another routine check,” Wiens notes.

The robot’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) is slated to do a 5×1 raster on “Foyers” and a 10×1 raster on “Eaval,” and Mastcam will image these targets too.

Also, the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) will take advantage of the dust removed from “Eaval” by ChemCam’s laser, and will do an overnight observation on that target, which will also be imaged by the rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI).

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo acquired on Sol 1943, January 23, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

In addition, the robot will take Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) passive data and also Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) and Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) data.

Straight south

On the next sol, Curiosity’s Mastcam will take a 12×2 mosaic of “Glen Tilt.” ChemCam will take passive spectra of several calibration targets on the rover, Wiens points out.

Curiosity Navcam Left B photo taken on Sol 1943, January 23, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

After that, the rover will spend 13 minutes driving about 82 feet (25 meters) nearly straight south, Wiens concludes, taking a short dip off the ridge. The rover will finish by taking images from its new position and sending the data home. 

6th Earth year on Mars

“Having spent 1943 sols on the surface of Mars, Curiosity is in its 6th Earth year on Mars, but it is in its 3rd Mars year of exploration,” Wiens explains. “That means Curiosity has encountered this season of the year twice before.”

The Mars machinery is just a little past the deepest part of winter in the southern hemisphere, where Curiosity roams.

Curiosity Rear Hazcam Right B image acquired on Sol 1943, January 23, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

 

Day in history

“On this day in history in Mars year 32 (which happened to be 19-April-2014 on Earth), Curiosity was just arriving at the Kimberley site, where she found manganese-oxide fracture fills and sanidine-rich sediments,” Wiens continues.

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1942, January 22, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

“And on this day one Mars year ago (March 6, 2016), Curiosity was climbing onto the Naukluft Plateau, starting to round the corner after its first encounter with the Bagnold Dunes, and prior to encountering the Murray Buttes,” Wiens says. “What a journey it has been for this intrepid rover!”

Navcam Right B image acquired on Sol 1943, January 23, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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