Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Left B image taken on Sol 3080, April 5, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at Gale Crater is now performing Sol 3081 tasks.

The robot is on a hunt for its next drill target, reports Mariah Baker, a planetary geologist at the Center for Earth & Planetary Studies, Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

“Recently, the rover has been investigating the ‘Mont Mercou’ rock outcrop…and now she’s making her way around to the top of the outcrop to find a suitable place to drill,” Baker notes. “But there’s always science to be done along the way!”

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera photo taken on Sol 3080, April 5, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

New drive

A new plan scoped out two sols of rover activities with a drive in the middle.

The science block on Sol 3081 was to include two Mastcam stereo mosaics of Mont Mercou, as well as Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) observations on a titanium calibration target.

Curiosity Rear Hazard Avoidance Camera Left B image acquired on Sol 3080, April 5, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Navcam and Mastcam images will also be acquired to measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere. “Touch and go” contact science with the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) was to be conducted on bedrock target “Orliac” before the rover executes a planned drive of over 60 feet (19-meters), Baker reports.

Next drill spot

After the drive, the rover will acquire standard post-drive images of its next workspace with the Mastcam, Navcam, and Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) cameras.

Self-inspection of wheel wear. Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager photo produced on Sol 3079, April 4, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The untargeted science block on Sol 3082 is planned to include a long Navcam dust devil movie and a single Mastcam image to monitor accumulation of sediment on the rover’s deck, Baker adds.

Both sols (3081-3082) were to include Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN)

And Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) measurements, as well as short science blocks around sunset for Navcam and Mastcam cloud imaging.

“In the coming sols,” Baker concludes, “the rover will continue to collect even more data on the local geology and environment as she hunts for our next drill location on Mars!”

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