Curiosity Mastcam Left image acquired on Sol 1989, March 11, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now carrying out Sol 1991 science duties.

Reports Ryan Anderson, a planetary geologist at the USGS in Flagstaff, Arizona:

“After a successful weekend plan, the team decided that for the sol 1991-1992 plan, we would trade a longer-distance drive in favor of some ‘touch and go’ contact science. This ensures that we have a good record of the variations in chemistry and rock texture as we drive along the Vera Rubin Ridge.”

Drive ahead

The plan starts with a short Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) observation of the target “Seaforth Head” along with Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photos of the same target.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 1989, March 11, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Anderson adds that the robot’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) and Mastcam also join in the fun, analyzing Seaforth Head as well as the target “Canisp.”

After those observations are finished, Curiosity will drive about 50 feet (15 meters) and collect the usual post-drive images.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 1989, March 11, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Nice vantage point

The plan for Sol 1992, calls for an untargeted science block full of ChemCam activities.

“ChemCam will use autonomous targeting to analyze a patch of bedrock, and then will observe the titanium calibration target,” Anderson notes. “After that, ChemCam will take advantage of the clear skies and nice vantage point,” he adds, on the top of the Vera Rubin Ridge, to do a big 10×2 Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) mosaic of part of the Peace Vallis fan.

“Mastcam will observe the same area with its right eye to provide color and context for the RMI. The plan wraps up with a Navcam movie to watch for clouds,” Anderson concludes.

Curiosity Navcam Left B image acquired on Sol 1989, March 11, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

 

 

Atmospherics

In an earlier report, Anderson pointed out that Sol 1990 was dedicated to lots of atmospheric observations. “Mastcam has some observations of dust in the atmosphere in the early morning and early afternoon, and Navcam will watch for clouds at those times as well. Navcam also has some early morning observations of the atmospheric ‘phase function’: basically, how bright the sky is at different angles from the sun. Navcam will also watch for dust devils in the afternoon.”

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