Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera photo taken on Sol 3368, January 26, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at Gale Crater is now performing Sol 3369 tasks.

Susanne Schwenzer, a planetary geologist at The Open University Milton Keynes in the U.K., reports the rover tried to approach “The Prow.”

“But, well, sometimes Mars does not read the script. If you ever drove off-road (or in heavy snow, for that matter), you’ll know that the landscape always rules. There is no point trying to fight it, it will win,” Schwenzer adds.

Curiosity Mast Camera Left image taken on Sol 3367, January 25, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mast Camera Left image taken on Sol 3367, January 25, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mast Camera Left image taken on Sol 3367, January 25, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

Tricky terrain

“Our attempt to drive to the outcrop showed that the terrain is tricky, and that sand under the wheels caused slippage which meant we once again ended up with our left front wheel perched on a rock,” Schwenzer notes. “While we expected it, and factored it into the planning, approaching carefully, keeping the rover safe, hoping our six-wheel drive would give us the upper edge… it proved too difficult. Mars wins.”

To keep the robot safe, rover controllers decided to back off and look out for another place where scientists could find similar structures in the future, and onto which they can safely deploy the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) and its Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS).

Siblings in the future

“That said, we are not leaving empty handed, because our mast-mounted cameras, Mastcam and the ChemCam remote imager, will have imaged every important inch of the structure, and ChemCam will get chemistry too,” Schwenzer says. “Good bye to this section of ‘The Prow,’ but we’ll be looking out for your siblings in the future.”

Curiosity Mast Camera imagery taken on Sol 3367, January 25, 2022.

Before the rover’s move, there is a lot of science to be done.

Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) is to investigate the target ‘Sorowape’ in active mode and takes high-resolution mosaics of the targets ‘Kambaouk’ and ‘Chimanta’ near the rover and of the target ‘Mirador’ in the distance.

Mastcam will be busy doing documentation images of the ChemCam active target and do imaging on the targets ‘Toron’ and ‘East Cliffs’ as well as a multispectral investigation on ‘Kambaouk.’

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera photo acquired on Sol 3368, January 26, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“After backing off and reaching a flat area, we will do our regular full MAHLI wheel imaging that we do to keep an eye on our hardware,” Schwenzer reports.

Clast survey image

There will be a Mastcam clast survey image and the post drive imaging from Navcam for planning on Friday.

A clast pertains to a rock or sediment composed principally of broken fragments that are derived from pre-existing rocks or minerals and that have been transported some distance from their places of origin. Also, a clast can be an individual constituent, grain, or fragment of a sediment or rock, produced by the mechanical weathering (disintegration) of a larger rock mass.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera photo acquired on Sol 3368, January 26, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Diverse area

“Of course, we also have atmospheric monitoring in the plan and DAN [Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons] is measuring the water in the rocks beneath the rover, too.

Curiosity’s Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) is to continue to take an image after the drive, documenting the rocks under the rover.

Curiosity Right B Navigation Camera photo acquired on Sol 3368, January 26, 2022.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Curiosity will have a busy day at the office while we will very closely inspect all the images we have – and that we will get from this plan, too – to spot a sibling of ‘The Prow.’ It’s a very diverse area,” Schwenzer notes. “It’s a feast for geologists, and for anyone else who likes to admire the wonderful structures that sedimentology has to offer.”

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