Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B image taken on Sol 2358, March 25, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has just started performing Sol 2359 duties.

“At the start of Sol 2359, Curiosity found herself parked in front of some layered bedrock outcrops, a rarity in the rubbly landscapes that we’ve explored so far in the clay-bearing unit,” reports Vivian Sun, a planetary geologist at NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“We were constrained by power in today’s plan, but managed to make use of every available minute for science,” Sun adds.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image acquired on Sol 2357, March 24, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


Detailed texture

As part of routine documentation of the chemical and textural variations in this region, the rover’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) will be making observations of “Rutherglen” to measure composition and detailed texture.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager photo produced on Sol 2357, March 24, 2019. MAHLI is located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) will also measure the composition of “Woodland Bay,” another bedrock exposure in the workspace.


Outcrop layering and structure

“We will also take a couple of Mastcam mosaics – one of the entire workspace to get a better look at the outcrop layering and structure, and to bring color to the tonal variations in the Navcam images,” Sun explains. Another Mastcam mosaic will be of “Goosander,” an aeolian bedform that also shows tonal variations.

Sun notes that discussions are underway where Curiosity will next drive.

Float rock – a meteroite? Curiosity Mastcam Left photo taken on Sol 2357, March 24, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Driving options

“One tempting option was to drive to a lone float rock,” Sun says. “We wondered what could this be – a meteorite, or a remnant of a higher, eroded unit?”

Float rock – lonely meteorite in the distance? Navcam Left B Sol 2357 March 24, 2019
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Another option was to drive to a nearby area that seems to contain subtle ridges.

“Given the prevalence of ridges and similar features in the clay-bearing unit, we decided that it was important to drive to the ridges and set ourselves up for contact science on these features,” Sun points out.

Curiosity Navcam Right B image acquired on Sol 2358, March 25, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Phobos transit

“From our future location, we will also have the opportunity to image that float rock as well as a nearby butte. To facilitate these future observations, we added a post-drive Mastcam workspace mosaic so that we will have color imagery to assist in targeting in the next plan,” Sun reports.

Finally, after a drive of approximately 98 feet (30 meters) to the small ridges, Curiosity will make observations of a Phobos transit and a Mastcam tau, followed by ChemCam Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science, or AEGIS.

AEGIS observations are designed to autonomously shoot ChemCam targets after driving to a new location, Sun concludes.

Curiosity Mastcam Left photo taken on Sol 2357, March 24, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


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