Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera photo taken on Sol 3116, March 12, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at Gale crater is now performing Sol 3117 tasks.

Kristen Bennett, a planetary geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, reports that the robot is finishing up at a stop designed to investigate “diagenetic” features. Those are features that formed after the sediment first was deposited—such as veins and color variations within the bedrock.

A newly scripted plan has the rover full of remote science and contact science before the Mars machinery drives away to continue traveling towards the sulfate unit.

Diagenetic features are visible in this image taken by the Curiosity’s Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) on Sol 3115.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LAN

White vein

“Veins are abundant in this workspace,” Bennett explains, and the rover’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) was set to target a bright white vein near the rover that is called “Busserolles.”

The Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument has a Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) target on “Quinsac,” which APXS and MAHLI investigated earlier this week.

“ChemCam will also target the feature ‘Razac de Saussignac’ as a passive observation, Bennett adds. “Razac de Saussignac is a fresh rock face with interesting color variations that was broken by the wheel when Curiosity drove over it on the previous drive.”

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Camera Right B image acquired on Sol 3116, March 12, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Stability of rocks

The plan now in action also includes a Mastcam mosaic of “Belves” to investigate the stability of the rocks in the Mt. Mercou cliff face and a ChemCam long distance Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) to target potential bedding within the sulfate unit.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera photo taken on Sol 3116, March 12, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

After the drive, the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI), Bennett concludes, will take a twilight image and there will be several atmospheric observations including a dust devil survey and a cloud observation.

 

 

As always, dates of planned rover activities are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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