Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image acquired on Sol 1939. January 19, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Now in Sol 1939, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is wrapping up science duties, busily exploring Vera Rubin Ridge location “e,” reports Lauren Edgar, a planetary geologist at the USGS in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Scientists are excited looking over the robot’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) data, Edgar notes, seeing that the instrument did a great job with some very precise pointing in the previous plan.

Curiosity Navcam Right B photo taken on Sol 1939, January 19, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Focused on small-scale features

“At location ‘e’ we have been focused on understanding small-scale features, like the tiny crystals and veins seen,” Edgar explains. The plan now in place has Curiosity complete the detailed work on this outcrop, and then it will “bump” to a new location to assess a transition from gray to red bedrock.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image acquired on Sol 1939, January 19, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A two-sol plan has Curiosity acquiring four more carefully pointed ChemCam observations to assess compositional variations in bedrock, a vein, and dark nodules, along with supporting Mastcam documentation.

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1937, January 17, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Funzie and Rona

Then the rover was slated to acquire Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) images of the target “Funzie,” and one more MAHLI image on “Rona” to assess small textural differences in the bedrock and veins that are present, Edgar points out.

Just for “Funzie,” the rover is to carry out an overnight Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) analysis. On the second sol, Curiosity’s to-do activities include acquiring a Mastcam multispectral mosaic of the area that the wheeled robot is bumping towards. Doing so will allow scientists to better understand the color differences and the transition from gray to red bedrock in this area.

NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Image taken on Sol 1938, January 18, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

Bump forward

Curiosity is set to drive roughly 16 feet (5 meters) to the south to set up for contact science in the weekend plan, Edgar reports.

“The plan also includes a number of environmental monitoring observations to look for clouds and variations in dust in the atmosphere,” Edgar adds.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) used an onboard focusing process, creating this product by merging two to eight images previously taken by the MAHLI. Image produced on Sol 1939, January 19, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS



Odyssey observation

One of the Mastcam atmospheric observations is coordinated with a Mars Odyssey Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) observation.

NASA’s Mars Odyssey has been orbiting the Red Planet since October 2001. The THEMIS observation, Edgar concludes, “is pretty cool,” when thinking about multiple spacecraft studying Mars from the ground and orbit.

Leave a Reply