Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B image taken on Sol 2117, July 21, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2117 duties.

According to Michelle Minitti, a planetary geologist at Framework in Silver Spring, Maryland, the robot made “great progress” across the “Vera Rubin Ridge” toward the site of our next drilling attempt at “Sgurr of Eigg.”

Weekend plan

A weekend plan has Curiosity collecting more data about the ridge materials around the rover, and the sky above the Mars machinery.

Curiosity Navcam Left B photo taken on Sol 2116, July 20, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


This is to be followed by Curiosity embarking on a drive of roughly 40 feet (12 meters) to Sgurr of Eigg, Minitti adds.

“We drove back into the Torridon quadrangle, so the target names once again have Scottish flavor,” Minitti notes.

Bedrock science

The rover’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) has shot three targets, each with a different characteristic.

“Ben Stack” is a representative laminated bedrock target.

“Ben Avon” is bedrock with small nodular features throughout it.

“Ben Lawers” includes a thin, resistant layer jutting out above the laminated bedrock surrounding it.

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 2115, July 19, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) will also analyze a representative bedrock target, “Walsay,” but for reasons beyond just the normal chemical characterization of a target.

Calibration activity

Minitti explains that APXS will analyze Walsay at four different distances – from touching the bedrock surface to hovering 3 centimeters above it – to refine how distance to the target affects APXS data.

“There are instances when the bedrock is rough enough that APXS cannot be placed directly in contact with a desired target. By conducting this calibration activity at Walsay, we will be better able to understand and interpret APXS data acquired in just such a situation,” Minitti notes.

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 2115, July 19, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Sky-high monitoring

“The dust storm continues to envelop Curiosity, so our plan includes observations aimed at monitoring the amount of dust in the atmosphere at both early morning and midday times,” Minitti reports. “We planned a dust devil survey, and a pair of cloud movies aimed at the horizon and at the zenith. ChemCam also took aim at the sky with a passive spectral observation to monitor the aerosols and trace gases in the atmosphere.”

After the drive on Sol 2119, Minitti adds, “the rover will unstow her arm before imaging the workspace, providing the team with an unobstructed view of our next drill attempt site. Hopefully, we will be able to hit the ground running with our drill plan on Monday!”

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) produced on Sol 2115, July 19, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


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