Curiosity Navcam Left B image acquired on Sol 1993, March 16, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


NASA’s Curiosity rover has just begun Sol 1995 operations on the Red Planet.

In a new report from Michelle Minitti, a planetary geologist at Framework in Silver Spring, Maryland: “The science team gave Curiosity a workout in this plan, using just about every watt of power available to carry out a full slate of activities.”

Minitti adds that Sol 1995 is scheduled to start off with a bang – three Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) rasters and a Mastcam 360 mosaic!

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 1993, March 16, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Wind sculpted slab

ChemCam will first shoot “Durness,” a flat, gray, apparently wind sculpted slab of bedrock in the workspace.

Next up for ChemCam is “Paisley,” a faceted cobble of bedrock cut by sulfate veins, and last is “Fingals Cave,” a bright white exposure of sulfate vein.

“The arm instruments get to work next,” Minitti notes.

Target brushing

The robot’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) will image Durness, which will show the ChemCam laser shots across the target, followed by a Dust Removal Tool (DRT) brushing of the target.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image acquired on Sol 1993, March 16, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity’s Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) will analyze Durness and Paisley overnight, and then early in the morning of Sol 1996, MAHLI will return to Durness for more imaging on its now dust-cleared surface, Minitti points out.

MAHLI imaging of Paisley ends the arm work, and will capture the ChemCam raster spots and the areas cleared of dust by the ChemCam laser.

Curiosity Navcam Left B photo taken on Sol 1993, March 16, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Hematite signal

“Before we drive on Sol 1996,” Minitti reports, “the rover will acquire Mastcam multispectral observations of the DRT spot on Durness and across the Vera Rubin Ridge in the direction of a particularly strong hematite signal seen from orbit that we are driving toward.”

After the drive, Curiosity will acquire two ChemCam observations using the Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science (AEGIS) automated targeting algorithm, and spend time observing the atmosphere.

Dust devils and clouds

Use of the robot’s Mastcam and Navcam is slated to produce images and movies that measure dust in the atmosphere and look for dust devils and clouds. Those activities are to take place both early in the morning and in the afternoon of Sol 1997.

APXS will acquire another Argon atmospheric measurement overnight on Sol 1997.

Regular Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN), Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) and Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) measurements, Minitti concludes, “keep the rover working in those small windows where nothing else is going on!”

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Note that 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.


New map

Meanwhile, a new Curiosity traverse map through Sol 1993 has been issued.

The map shows the route driven by Curiosity through the 1993 Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission on Mars (March 16, 2018).

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 1991 to Sol 1993, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 109.86 feet (33.48 meters), bringing the rover’s total odometry for the mission to 11.44 miles (18.40 kilometers).

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

Leave a Reply

Griffith Observatory Event