Curiosity’s location on Sol 3185. Distance driven to date is 16.06 miles (25.85 kilometers)
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 3188 tasks.

Ken Herkenhoff, a planetary geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, reports that a Sol 3185 drive went well.

The robot is now near a low, linear ridge. “This ridge attracted the attention of the tactical science team so several observations of it are included in a 3-sol weekend plan,” Herkenhoff adds.

Following a Sol 3185 drive, the rover is near a low, linear ridge shown in the lower left part of image acquired by Curiosity’s Left Navigation Camera Sol 3185 July 22, 2021
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Weekend science

This weekend plan was slated to start with a Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) raster on a dark, rough target named “Chalagnac” and a Mastcam 5×2 stereo mosaic of the area surrounding Chalagnac.

Mastcam was set to also take a 5×1 stereo mosaic of a nearby trough before arm activities begin.

The DRT will be used to brush dust off a bedrock target dubbed “Chauffour” and ChemCam’s Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) will be used to take pictures of the drill bit to look for changes.

Mars Hand Lens Imager photo produced on Sol 3187, July 24, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Herkenhoff points out that the rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) was to then take full suites of images of Chauffour and a nearby darker target called “Le Manet,” then the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) was to be placed on Le Manet for an evening integration and on Chauffour for a longer overnight integration.

“The resulting data should be useful in measuring differences in the chemical composition of these targets,” Herkenhoff says.

Curiosity Front Left B Hazard Avoidance Camera image acquired on Sol 3187, July 24, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Planned drive toward the southwest

On the second sol (3188), the plan called for Mastcam acquire a big stereo mosaic of a butte to the west of the rover, then ChemCam will fire its laser at a bedrock target named “Campsegret” and acquire a 10×1 RMI mosaic of layering exposed in a cliff face toward the south.

“Mastcam will then take a documentation image of the Campsegret laser spots, a multispectral observation of the Chauffour brushed spot, and measure the dust in the atmosphere above the rover by imaging the Sun,” Herkenhoff notes. “Navcam will then search for dust devils and clouds and measure the dust opacity within Gale Crater. A drive toward the southwest is then planned, followed by the standard post-drive imaging of the terrain surrounding new rover location.”

Curiosity Left B Navigation Camera photo taken on Sol 3187, July 24, 2021.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Dust in the atmosphere

The third sol (3189) begins with a ChemCam LIBS observation of an autonomously-selected target and a Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument (CheMin) maintenance activity.

Later that afternoon, Mastcam will acquire a 13×2 stereo mosaic of a butte toward the southeast of the expected post-drive location and Navcam will survey the sky.

“Early in the morning of Sol 3190, Navcam will again search for clouds and Mastcam will again measure the dust in the atmosphere above the rover and across Gale Crater,” Herkenhoff concludes. “Another busy weekend for our intrepid explorer!”

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