Image shows the rim of the crater once again visible above Vera Rubin Ridge. Photo taken by Navcam Left B on Sol 2449 June 27, 2019
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2451 weekend tasks.

Reports Roger Wiens, a geochemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico: “Curiosity has been a bit down lately-in elevation. After exploring the top of Vera Rubin Ridge (VRR) last year, the rover descended into a trough south of the ridge, dropping as much as 15 meters in elevation this spring to explore part of the clay-bearing unit.”

Wiens adds that Curiosity is now back to the highest elevation that it achieved before it left the ridge, about -4140 meters relative to the reference level representing zero elevation on Mars.

Curiosity Navcam Right B photo taken on Sol 2450, June 28, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Climb higher

“Curiosity will continue to climb higher as it explores the rest of the Glen Torridon and then moves on to the sulfate unit and Greenheugh Pediment,” Wiens notes.

The rover team recently planned activities for the rover over the weekend.

Curiosity is wrapping up activities at the base of “Harlaw Rise” and will then drive further up the rise.

Curiosity Mastcam Left photo acquired on Sol 2449, June 27, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Weekend plan

On the first sol of the weekend plan the rover is on tap to mostly nap to recharge batteries.

Some Hazcam imaging will be done and Mastcam will take some nighttime images, according to the plan.

On the second sol, ChemCam is slated to shoot three targets near the rover: “Red_Point”, “North_Sea,” and “Roineva.”

Crater rim imaging

Mastcam is slated to take a crater rim extinction image. The arm will be deployed for imaging of gnarly rocks with the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) and analysis with the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS).

Target names are “Earn” and “Magnus Bay.”

On the plan, Navcam will take zenith and superhorizon movies, and Mastcam will take another crater rim extinction image. Mastcam will image “Harlaw_Rise” and the “Tayside” and “Buckie” targets.

Curiosity MAHLI image produced on Sol 2450, June 28, 2019.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Drive ahead

After that, Wiens concludes, the plan for the rover is to do some deck monitoring; Navcam will do a 360 degree dust devil survey. The rover will drive 115 feet (35 meters) which should take it up “Harlaw Rise.”

As always, dates of planned rover activities are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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