MISSION UPDATES | November 2, 2020

Sols 2931-2932: Stop and Go

Written by Kristen Bennett, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center
A view of Hedgehope Hill mosaic on Mars

An image from the "Hedgehope Hill" mosaic acquired by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on Oct. 29, 2020. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS. Download image ›

Curiosity is on the road to the sulfate unit, but there are always stops on a road trip. The drive did not finish in the weekend plan, so today’s plan will include re-sequencing that drive. However, the operations team always keeps going and they created an impressive plan that includes contact science, remote science, and a drive.

The shortened drive placed the rover in a location surrounded by pebbles and loose soil, so the APXS and MAHLI target, “Rachan,” is a pebble near the rover. The ChemCam target, “Lee,” is a different pebble near the rover. It is always good to document the composition of the terrain, even if that means targeting a lot of pebbles! Several Mastcam mosaics are planned that cover the rocks carved into benches Curiosity will explore over the next few weeks. There will also be a dust devil movie in an attempt to spot more dust devils during this windy season.

The image shown above is from the "Hedgehope Hill" MAHLI mosaic taken last week. I wasn’t on shift for today’s busy plan but I was pretty busy last week when I helped plan this mosaic. This gorgeous observation is part of a “dog’s eye” mosaic (where MAHLI gets down low to the ground to look at the side of a rock) that will help scientists learn how the sediment in this rock was deposited.