Curiosity’s location as of Sol 3359. Distance driven 16.78 miles/27.01 kilometers
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at Gale Crater is now performing Sol 3361 tasks.

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 3361, January 19, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“We continue to document rocks similar to what we saw at ‘The Prow,’ a dark appearing rock outcrop with amazing sedimentary structures and details,” reports Catherine O’Connell-Cooper, Planetary Geologist at University of New Brunswick; Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 3359, January 17, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“To do this, we need to get as close as possible to an outcrop surface but that has called for some short multi-plan drives, as we maneuver to a new feature called ‘Panari’ – a length of roughly [65-feet] 20 meters away from The Prow.”

In the last plan, the robot edged towards the inclined rock in the front right corner of the image, ending on some flatter rock a safe distance back.
This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera on Sol 3356, January 14, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Flatter rock

In the last plan, the robot edged towards an inclined rock, ending on some flatter rock a safe distance back.

“This end of drive,” O’Connell-Cooper adds, “allows the rover planners to vet the inclined rock, finding the optimal location to place us for up close contact science after a short ‘bump’ or drive (less than [10-feet] 3 meters in total) on the third sol of this plan [Sols 3357-3360].”

Curiosity Mast Camera (Mastcam) Left photo acquired on Sol 3359, January 17, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mast Camera (Mastcam) Left photo acquired on Sol 3359, January 17, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mast Camera (Mastcam) Left photo acquired on Sol 3359, January 17, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

First however is documenting the flatlying rock underneath the rover. The target “Chimata” in front of the rover will be brushed to clear the dust and then analyzed by both the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Mastcam.

Tonal differences

“This material is a somewhat paler color than The Prow and the inclined rocks at Panari, so we are investigating to see if the tonal differences are reflected in the composition,” O’Connell-Cooper notes.

Curiosity’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) will use the Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument to target two smaller targets (“Mataui” and “Kamarang”) and the Mastcam targets “Auyan” and “Uei” look at sand movement overlying fractures and along the side of flatlying bedrock.

“Chimata” in front of the rover is brushed to clear the dust. Curiosity Mast Camera (Mastcam) Right image taken on Sol 3359, January 17, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

 

 

Changing dust levels

ChemCam will also target the inclined block with LIBS (“Apparam”) and its imaging tool, the Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) (target “Karwai”), whilst Mastcam will image a similar block “Quino” a bit further in the distance, O’Connell-Cooper says.

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 3359, January 17, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

There are also multiple monitoring activities, looking at changing dust levels in the atmosphere, and a full day of Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) only activities of the last day of a recent, but crammed, four sol plan, O’Connell-Cooper concludes.

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