Laser spotting Mars sand dunes. Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1621, February 26, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is performing a range of Sol 1623 tasks, with a two-sol plan scoped out that’s devoted to remote sensing and Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) diagnostics.

The plan is to kick off with arm activities to better understand the fault that MAHLI experienced last week, reports Lauren Edgar, a research geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1620, February 25, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Interesting color variations

Then the plan involves Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) investigation of “Dunn Brook.”

“The target shows some interesting color variations so ChemCam will be used to investigate changes in composition,” Edgar explains. “We’ll also acquire a ChemCam observation of “Leighton,” to study the coarse sand grains at the crest of a ripple.”

Also on tap is use of Curiosity’s Navcam to look for dust devils and clouds, in response to orbital observations that suggest recent increasing atmospheric opacity, Edgar adds.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) image taken on Sol 1619, February 24, 2017. MAHLI is located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Targeting features

On the second sol, Mastcam is on schedule to acquire a multispectral observation on “Dunn Brook,” and will be used to document the previous Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) locations at “Tomhegan” and “Waweig.”

“We’ll also acquire a Mastcam image for deck monitoring to assess the movement of fines, and an upper tier Navcam mosaic to enable us to target features on Mt. Sharp,” Edgar notes.

Mars rover Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B image taken on Sol 1622, February 27, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The second sol plan includes a number of environmental monitoring observations, using both Mastcam and Navcam to monitor the color and opacity of the atmosphere and search for dust devils.

The plan also includes an APXS thermal characterization test and a number of change detection observations.

By the way, Curiosity has taken nearly 391,000 images since its landing in August of 2012.


The left side of this 360-degree panorama from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows the long rows of ripples on a linear shaped dune in the Bagnold Dune Field on the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp.
The view is a mosaic of images taken with Curiosity’s Navigation Camera (Navcam) on Feb. 5, 2017, during the 1,601st Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars. The view is centered toward west-southwest, with east-southeast on either end. A capped mound called “Ireson Hill” is on the right.

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