Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B image taken on Sol 1949, January 29, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars has just started to perform Sol 1950 duties.

“We are back on Vera Rubin Ridge today after a short diversion into the phyllosilicate unit,” reports Abigail Fraeman, a planetary geologist at NASA/JPL in Pasadena, California.

Detailing Curiosity duties for Sol 1950-1951: “Our workspace this morning contained rocks in various shades of red,” Fraeman notes. “The remote sensing and contact science observations we planned today are designed to investigate the chemistry, spectral properties, and fine scale textures associated with these color changes.”

Curiosity Navcam Right B photo acquired on Sol 1949, January 29, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech



Brush and observe

One contact science target, “Balmedie,” has been chosen for Curiosity to brush and observe with the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) and the robot’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS)

“This rock was one of the only rocks in the workspace that was big enough to safely brush, and the observations we take will provide information about the properties of the bedrock in the area,” Fraeman adds. 

Curiosity Navcam Left B image acquired on Sol 1949, January 29, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


Different colors

The plan also calls for taking Mastcam multispectral observation of Balmedie and its surroundings. After the contact science block, on tap is collecting Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) observations of bedrock targets that have different colors, “Killiecrankie” and “Bennachie.”

Also a ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager mosaic of a distant target on Mt. Sharp named “Muchalls” is on the schedule.

Mastcam will document the two ChemCam laser targets, and Curiosity will also take a 7×2 stereo mosaic of a distant target “Harris Bay,” which is a potential geologic contact.

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) produced this product by merging two to eight images previously taken by the instrument. MAHLI is located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm.AHLI Sol 1949, January 29, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Drive to the northeast

The first sol of the plan will end with a drive to the northeast. On the plan is use of Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science (AEGIS) software to make an auto-target observation on the second sol of the plan, along with a dust devil search.

Curiosity laser shots dot the surface of Mars near rover tire track.
Curiosity Mastcam Right photo taken on Sol 1948, January 28, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Fraeman notes that this week all of the Curiosity science team members are traveling to Pasadena for a bi-annual meeting.

“We will converse about the latest data and share our interpretations with one another,” Fraeman adds. “Team members are located all across the world, so it’s wonderful to be able to meet face to face to discuss all of our recent results!”

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