MISSION UPDATES | September 21, 2012

Sol 45 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Bump Drive

Written by Ken Herkenhoff, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center

The high-resolution color images of "Jake Matijevic" show that one face of the rock is clean (dust-free) enough for detailed study using the instruments on MSL's arm. So the Sol 45 plan includes a "bump" (short rover drive) to get close enough to reach it with the arm. We also planned ChemCam laser shots on the rock before the bump to see how much its chemistry varies on millimeter scales. After the drive, late afternoon images of Aeolis Mons (the huge mountain in the middle of Gale crater, informally known as Mt. Sharp) were planned. Previous images of Aeolis Mons were taken with the sun high in the sky, so that subtle topography is difficult to see. The new mosaic should be spectacular, but will take days to weeks to return to Earth because of the large volume of data involved.