Curiosity’s location as of Sol 3506. Distance driven by this sol: 17.48 miles/28.14 kilometers.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at Gale Crater is now performing Sol 3507duties.

“The difficulty of driving on Martian terrain proves itself once again,” reports Natalie Moore, a mission operations specialist, at Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, California.

Curiosity’s Sol 3504 drive did not complete successfully, leaving the robot in basically the same spot as an earlier plan.

Curiosity Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) photo taken on Sol 3506, June 17, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Curiosity Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) photo taken on Sol 3506, June 17, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

“Thankfully, all the science we planned executed successfully,” Moore adds. There was an interesting Dust Removal Tool result on “Omai” showing erosion-resistant veins beneath the surface and a Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) closeup of the robot’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) eye where the laser comes out.

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image acquired on Sol 3506, June 17, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

More science

While resolute rover planners worked on scripting a drive to get the rover further down the road, there was agreement to fill up a new plan with even more science and instrument calibration activities.

“For geology-based science, ChemCam’s Sol 3503 laser target ‘Mahdia’ was so interesting they decided to shoot the same area again but this time have Mastcam take a suite of images in 7 color filters to document the area in various light wavelengths,” Moore explains.

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image acquired on Sol 3506, June 17, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

ChemCam is slated to shoot its laser on a thin plate of rock sticking out just above the Mahdia target area, named “Iwokrama” after a rain forest in central Guyana.

“While Mastcam is documenting ChemCam’s efforts in color,” Moore explains, “it will also be taking a stereo 2×2 mosaic of nearby sand ripples, named ‘Poci’ after the small town in Venezuela, which may help characterize Martian aeolian processes over time.”

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image acquired on Sol 3506, June 17, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Atmospheric composition

For contact science with the arm, the team decided on a single MAHLI imaging activity on a layered rock named “Tipuru” after the village in Guyana. Due to the depth of Tipuru’s layers, MAHLI will be taking images at 8 focus positions and stacking them into a single image with best focus.

For environmental science, ChemCam is on tap to collect data passively while pointed at the sky for atmospheric composition characterization.

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image acquired on Sol 3506, June 17, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Mastcam is slated to take images of the Sun with its solar filter for atmospheric opacity measurements.

Navcam is planning an image of crater rim for atmospheric opacity and a movie of the terrain to hopefully capture Martian dust devils.

Instrument calibration

The environmental team is also planning their normal Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD), and Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) activities for regular measurements of the rover’s spot in Gale Crater.

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image acquired on Sol 3506, June 17, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

There’s an opportunity to obtain plenty of instrument calibration and documentation activities logged.

Mastcam is planning two identical runs of images through the solar filter while not pointing at the Sun, which will return black images showing the state of the Mastcam charge-coupled devices (CCDs) to see how they’re holding up after nearly 10 years on Mars.

MAHLI is planning an image of the REMS ultraviolet sensor to show how much dust has accumulated and 4 images of the sky to use for processing MAHLI images after they arrive on Earth.

Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite has an electrical-baseline test (EBT) and the Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin) has an empty cell analysis activity planned for continued instrument calibration, Moore reports.

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Right B image taken on Sol 3506, June 17, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Drive ahead

After the rover makes a drive of roughly 72-feet (22-meters), Mastcam is to take images of the Mars machinery’s new location.

Lastly, also in the planning is taking a single Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) image of the ground including part of the left-front wheel after sunset to get diffuse illumination of the dusty ground below.

 

 

“As of this plan,” Moore concludes, “we’ve driven 28 and 1/8th kilometers since landing!”

Leave a Reply