Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera image acquired on Sol 3658, November 20, 2022.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at Gale Crater is now performing Sol 3659 duties.

Reports Keri Bean, rover planner deputy team lead at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the robot had a busy weekend.

On sol 3657, the plan called for a very long block of remote sensing, including a Navcam dust devil survey. Also, a Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) laser observation was on the schedule of “Cigana,” some long distance ChemCam imaging, a Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) observation, as were several Mastcam observations of Cigana, Rafael Navarro, Gediz Vallis Ridge, and some imaging of the rover deck.

“The rover will take a nice nap until later in the afternoon where the rover will wake up and perform some arm activities,” Bean added. “We’re really having fun challenging our arm rover planner,” such as two uses of Curiosity’s Dust Removal Tool.

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 3658, November 20, 2022.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Stow the arm

The brushing and Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) imaging of both the “Lua” and “Rio Jufari” targets were planned, as was starting the evening with the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) instrument observing the Lua target.

“Mid-evening we will replace the APXS on the Rio Jufari target to get an observation of that target. Later that night we will stow the arm to prepare for the next sol’s drive,” Bean notes.

“Starting out nice and early in the rover’s morning on sol 3658, we take a full 360 panorama around us in the morning light, followed by some imaging of Gediz Vallis Ridge,” Bean reports. “A bit later in the morning we do some atmospheric monitoring imaging with Mastcam and Navcam, a ChemCam laser observation of the previous sol’s arm target Rio Jufari, some distance imaging with ChemCam, and a slew of Mastcam observations of Saddle Mountain, “Xua,” Lua, and Rio Jufari.”

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 3658, November 20, 2022.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Safe spot

After all the projected imaging, the rover is to drive for 4 hours.  

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager photo produced on Sol 3658, November 20, 2022.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager photo produced on Sol 3658, November 20, 2022.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

In the plan, rover operators included what’s called the Full MAHLI Wheel Imaging activity, where there’s use of a combination of Mastcam and MAHLI to image the rover wheels and monitor those wheels for any new damage.

“We have some requirements to find a spot safe to do this imaging, so a lot of my morning on shift was verifying a good safe spot to perform this activity in,” Bean observed. “Luckily there was a good spot about 5 meters behind where the rover is, so we back up, run this activity, then start heading back the way we came.”

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 3658, November 20, 2022.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Wheel markings

Bean said the plan calls for Curiosity to drive about 148 feet (45 meters), retracing its wheel markings, and end near the sand ripple from a few sols ago “with hopefully some bedrock in the workspace for the next Rover Planners to play with,” Bean reports.

The third and final sol of this plan, sols 3657-3659, has an autonomously selected a ChemCam target in the morning before sleeping until very early on sol 3660 “where we’ll take a slew of atmospheric monitoring images with Navcam and Mastcam,” Bean added.

Throughout the plan, the robot is carrying out standard environmental monitoring with DAN, the Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) and the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS).

Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) wheel check, Sol 3658, November 20, 2022
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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