Curiosity’s Location on Sol 2959. Distance driven 14.68 miles (23.63 kilometers).
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2962 tasks.

The rover is marching forward, reports Mark Salvatore, a planetary geologist at the University of Michigan. “Curiosity continues to make swift progress on her climb up Mt. Sharp. After ascending a relatively steep portion over the last few weeks, Curiosity is now on “’flatter’ ground and covering lots of ground with each drive,” he explains.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 2961, December 4, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Interesting outcrops

Curiosity recently stopped to investigate the local bedrock and to acquire some long-distance and high-resolution images of the interesting outcrops that lie ahead.

Curiosity Chemistry & Camera Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) photo acquired on Sol 2960, December 3, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

The team selected four targets to analyze using the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument to better characterize the chemistry of the local bedrock.

“Three of these targets are designed to characterize color variations in relatively smooth bedrock,” Salvatore adds, “while the final target was selected to investigate a more nodular piece of bedrock observed in front of the rover.

Two long-distance Mastcam color mosaics of some likely geologic transitions located ahead of the rover were planned, as well as a Mastcam multispectral observation of two large boulders to the east.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 2961, December 4, 2020.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Compositional differences

“These multispectral observations will help the team to determine whether there are compositional differences between the boulders and the surrounding landscape, which could help to decipher the origin of the boulders and whether they represent more exotic geologic units than those currently being explored,” Salvatore reports. “In the coming days, Curiosity will stick around at this location as we gather more data and perform some routine rover maintenance before continuing her march to the east.”

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