Image of the Bardou drill hole and powdered material taken by Curiosity Mast Camera on Sol 3094, April 20, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The Curiosity rover at Gale Crater is parked on top of Mont Mercou providing a spectacular vantage point to survey both the terrain the robot has driven over and future areas of interest.

Reports Lucy Thompson, a planetary geologist at University of New Brunswick; Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada: “Based on orbital signatures, we are expecting to encounter a transition from relatively clay-rich to sulfate-rich rocks as Curiosity continues to climb Mount Sharp. This may signify an environmental change on Mars, and imaging will help us to monitor this transition and provide context for future exploration.”

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Right B image acquired on Sol 3099, April 25, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Imaging activities

On the planning schedule, the rover’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) was to acquire a long distance Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) mosaic pointed towards “Chavagnac,” within the sulfate-bearing unit behind the rover, to the south.

Along with the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite evolved gas analysis (EGA) analysis of the Bardou sample, a weekend plan was full of imaging activities utilizing both the ChemCam RMI and Mastcam cameras.

Mastcam was set to acquire mosaics to document a number of sand-filled cracks on top of Mont Mercou (“Villamblard,” “Queyssac” and “Sabouret”), as well as an image of the Bardou drill hole and surrounding powder, Thompson adds.

Curiosity Mast Camera Left photo taken on Sol 3098, April 24, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Another of these sand-filled cracks (“Cherval”) will be imaged with the ChemCam RMI.

Look for dust

Environmental monitoring will include a Mastcam tau pointed towards the sun at different times of day, Mastcam crater rim extinction imaging to look for dust and Mastcam documentation of the edge of the Mont Mercou cliff.

Curiosity’s Navcam will also acquire images to monitor dust activity in the atmosphere and to investigate dust devil activity. Standard Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD), Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), and Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) activities were also planned.

“We are excited to analyze the chemistry of the Bardou drilled sample in upcoming plans, before driving away,” Thompson concludes.

Leave a Reply