Mid-drive image showing the sand patch “Stemster” behind the rubbly workspace the robot now explores.
Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 2593, November 22, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has just started performing 2594 Sol tasks.

Reports Catherine O’Connell, a planetary geologist at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada: “We are putting Central Butte behind us now, as we journey onwards to Western Butte, a nearby hill that appears to be similar to Central Butte. At Central Butte, we were spoiled for choice, with lots of rocky outcrops to investigate.”

Curiosity Front Right B Hazard Avoidance Camera image acquired on Sol 2593, November 22, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A recent drive by the robot brought it to the type of workspace Mars scientists have seen previously in Glen Torridon – lots and lots of small pebbles and sand.

Pebbly material

“We did still manage to find things to analyze,” O’Connell adds.

Curiosity’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) is to integrate on an area called “Flow Country” over the weekend, split into three distinct sections – sand, very small pebbles and a single larger pebble.

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera photo taken on Sol 2593, November 22, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“This will allow us to compare the compositions, and to see how they relate to pebbly material encountered further back in Glen Torridon,” O’Connell points out.

Potential meteorite targets

The rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) is to complete the contact science on Flow Country, imaging all three parts of the target. Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) is to investigate some larger fragments of rock “Nutberry Moss” and “Otterswick,” as well as two potential meteorite targets “Pladda Isle” and “Swona.”

Curiosity Mast Camera Left image acquired on Sol 2592, November 21, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Drive ahead

“As always, our plan is full of Mastcam imagery. In addition to documenting the ChemCam targets, Mastcam is imaging two sand patches “Stemster” and “Stonywynd,” and looking back towards Central Butte before we drive on sol 2595,” O’Connell notes.

The Environmental theme group (ENV) planned a series of Mastcam and Engineering Camera (ECAM) movies to look at environmental conditions, such as dust devils, clouds and dust overhead in the sky above the rover and towards the walls of Gale crater.

The plan also calls for Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) and Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) to continue their ongoing environmental monitoring.

“Once the drive completes, we will stay in place until after the Thanksgiving holiday. Mastcam will image our new workspace and surrounding area so that we can do lots of contact science and a very special imaging project over the holiday period,” O’Connell concludes.

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