Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 1705, May 24, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Now in Sol 1707, the NASA Curiosity Mars rover recently completed a drive of 48 feet (14.6 meters).

Following that drive, scientists decided against robot arm activities due to a lack of compelling targets and in deference to making the next drive longer.

Bedrock science

Michael Battalio, an atmospheric scientist at Texas A&M University reports that on Sol 1707, the rover’s Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) will capture a raster of the “White Cap Mountain” bedrock, as well as a patch of dark undisturbed soil called “French Hill Pond.”

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 1705, May 24, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity’s Mastcam is slated to document all of the ChemCam targets and will image “Googings Ledge” – a large, darker bedrock — and “The Twinnies,” a shadowed bedrock exposure cut off which are sedimentary members of the Murray formation, as well as “Soward Island,” which has exposed bedrock layers.

Next drive

Battalio notes that after a planned drive of nearly 100 feet (30 meters), ChemCam will perform an Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science (AEGIS) automated activity, and Navcam will document Curiosity’s new position.

Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B image taken on Sol 1706, May 24, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite is on tap to perform a methane dual enrichment activity on Sol 1709, which will compare a methane-enriched atmospheric sample to a non-enriched sample, Battalio adds.

When SAM takes atmospheric methane or oxygen measurements, Mars environmental specialists like to obtain a ChemCam passive sky observation within a few sols for an independent comparison. However, the times initially available in the plan around mid-sol to place a passive sky, Battalio points out, were not compatible with possible pointing azimuths, as we are so close to the new year (northern hemisphere spring equinox).

Weekend plan: power restrictions

“In anticipation of potential power restrictions in the weekend plan, we attempted a long morning imaging suite a couple of sols early, which would include a passive sky measurement; however, we were forced to defer those plans due to power restrictions in the current plan,” Battalio reports.

“Instead of losing the science time altogether, we noticed that the mid-sol time was compatible for taking a ChemCam calibration measurement. This calibration will be taken on Sol 1708 in preparation for the next passive sky,” Battalio explains. “This just proves that while doing science on another planet can be frustrating at times, it is always rewarding.”

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1705, May 23, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Ingest time

On Sol 1708, the plan calls for a 30-minute Navcam dust devil movie to be taken around noon on Sol 1708.

The robot’s Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) is also slated to capture the standard top-of-the-hour 5 minute observations and 19 hour-long observation blocks, Battalio says, which will include observations during the “ingest times” of the SAM methane activity.

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1705, May 24, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Also, the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) experiment will take approximately 9 hours of passive and 20 minutes of post-drive active observations.






Road map

Meanwhile, a new Curiosity traverse map through Sol 1705 has been issued.


This map shows the route driven by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity through the 1705 Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission on Mars (May 22, 2017). Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up. The scale bar is 1 kilometer (~0.62 mile).

From Sol 1703 to Sol 1705, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 23.43 feet (7.14 meters), bringing the rover’s total odometry for the mission to 10.25 miles (16.50 kilometers).

The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) onboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

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