Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Left B image taken on Sol 3245, September 22, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at Gale Crater is now performing Sol 3246 duties.

Reports Mark Salvatore, a planetary geologist at the University of Michigan, a recently scripted two-sol (3246-3247) plan will wrap up the robot’s drilling activities at the Maria Gordon drill location before it continues the drive up-section and towards the southwest.

“On the first sol of the plan, Curiosity will primarily be performing arm activities to further characterize the recently dumped drill sample and the drill hole,” Salvatore adds.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager photo produced on Sol 3245, September 22, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Daytime and evening imaging will occur using the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on the end of the arm.

Overnight, the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) instrument will be used to characterize the chemistry of the drill tailings.

Drill dump pile

On the following sol, the team has planned a series of Mastcam mosaics and a long-distance Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) image mosaic, in addition to a Mastcam multispectral image on the drill dump pile.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 3245, September 22, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Following this suite of science activities, Curiosity will drive away from this drill location and towards a region that contains a high abundance of nodules in the bedrock,” Salvatore notes. “Curiosity will use a driving technique designed to better prepare the nodular surface for additional investigations.”

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 3245, September 22, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Nodular targets

Salvatore explains that, once Curiosity reaches her intended target at the end of the drive, she will perform a series of small maneuvers designed to crush any nodular targets on the surface before turning back around and putting herself in position to analyze the surface.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 3245, September 22, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“If successful, we hope that this technique will result in better preparing the surface for additional imaging and compositional analyses, beyond what is commonly performed by Curiosity during normal imaging and surface analysis campaigns,” Salvatore concludes.

Curiosity Chemistry & Camera Remote Micro Imager (RMI) taken on Sol 3245, September 22, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

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