Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera image acquired on Sol 2605, December 4, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now carrying out Sol 2606 tasks.

Curiosity Front Hazard Avoidance Right B Camera photo taken on Sol 2605, December 4, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Mars robot’s science team recently faced some tough decisions reports Scott Guzewich, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 2605, December 4, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech“The geologists had to choose between investigating a plethora of interesting rock targets in the workspace…or limit the observations at this location in favor of continuing to drive uphill to get a better view of Western Butte.”

“The geologists had to choose between investigating a plethora of interesting rock targets in the workspace…or limit the observations at this location in favor of continuing to drive uphill to get a better view of Western Butte.”

Rock targets

After some discussion, Guzewich adds, it was decided to perform a “touch-and-go,” where Curiosity’s arm studied rock targets “Staxigoe” and “Totegan” with the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), and performed some additional remote sensing science with Mastcam and Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam), and then drive during the mid-afternoon.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 2605, December 4, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Clever geometry

In addition to routine observations with the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) and Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) instrument, the plan included Mastcam observations of atmospheric dust opacity (how much dust is in the atmosphere above us) and a Navcam movie to observe water ice clouds.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera image taken on Sol 2605, December 4, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“This Navcam movie uses some clever geometry to calculate the height of clouds above the surface based on the shadows they cast on Mt. Sharp,” Guzewich points out. “We’re currently in the colder, cloudy winter season on Mars and will be for months to come!”

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

New road map

Meanwhile, a new map shows the route driven by Curiosity through the 2604 Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission on Mars (December 4, 2019).

Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up. The scale bar is 1 kilometer (~0.62 mile).

From Sol 2602 to Sol 2604, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 40.76 feet (12.42 meters), bringing the rover’s total odometry for the mission to 13.38 miles (21.54 kilometers).

The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Curiosity Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) Remote Micro Imager (RMI) photo acquired on Sol 2605, December 4, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

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