MISSION UPDATES | June 12, 2020

Sols 2790-2791: Capturing the Sights on the Road

Written by Michelle Minitti, Planetary Geologist at Framework
Surface of Mars

This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 2788. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›​

Akin to a road trip where you want to make good time but do not want to miss the notable sights along the way, Curiosity is fitting in scientific sightseeing along her drive east toward sulfate-bearing horizons identified in Mt. Sharp long before Curiosity started exploring Gale crater in 2012. The stop-worthy attraction on Sol 2790 was an apparent landslide, which littered the slopes up to the "Greenheugh pediment" with a variety of dark gray blocks from that bedrock layer. To learn more about how the pediment, and the bedrock it once covered, eroded through time, the team planned two Mastcam mosaics from the the base of the landslide. One large mosaic will cover the landslide itself, dubbed “Munlochy,” and the second, smaller mosaic will capture “Cowie Harbour,” layered outcrops on lower flanks of a butte that was once connected to the Greenheugh pediment. Mastcam will also image a collection of large blocks (“Yamspath Law”) sitting among pebble-lined troughs dividing the bedrock of this part of the Glen Torridon region, further contributing to the investigation of how the terrain we are driving on evolved to the state we find it today. With all of the Mastcam imaging, there was only time for one ChemCam raster on the target “Muness,” one of the dark gray blocks brought downhill by the landslide. Fortunately, we knew we got additional chemistry data from the bedrock covered by the landslide in the two post-drive automated ChemCam rasters from the previous plan.

We will get two more such automated ChemCam rasters after our next drive, which will take us slightly north around a sand patch that stands in our way of direct progress east. Before and after the drive, we will acquire numerous images and movies of the skies above us to monitor the amount of dust in the atmosphere and look for clouds and dust devils.