MISSION UPDATES | November 6, 2020

Sols 2935-2937: A Beautiful Day on Mars

Written by Abigail Fraeman, Planetary Geologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Surface of Mars taken by Curiosity rover

This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 2933. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Curiosity’s latest drive placed the rover on top of one of the “rock benches” that are present throughout the area, and the views up here are just gorgeous! There are dinner plate-sized patches of layered bedrock in the rover’s workspace, which are quite a contrast to the pebble filled workspace we saw at our last location. We can also see the next set of benches in the distance (see image above), and I think they look like meter-scale stair steps carved into the landscape.

In this three-sol weekend plan, we’re going to take advantage of the spectacular view up here and acquire a 108 frame Mastcam stereo mosaic. This mosaic will help us further distinguish the sedimentary structures preserved in the rocks in this unique topographic region and it will enable us to find the best areas for closer investigations in later sols. We will also take some time to learn more about the bedrock of the “benchtop” by collecting MAHLI and APXS observations of targets named “Muckle Minn” and “Hunt Hill,” and ChemCam observations of “Smugglers Cave,” “Achnashellach,” and “Achosnich.” We will supplement the mega-Mastcam mosaic with two smaller mosaics of areas near the rover named “Voe” and “Roe.” After completing our science activities, we’ll drive along the “benchtop” to the northeast for ~45 m and take a large set of post-drive images that will be used to help with planning on Monday. In parallel to all of these geological studies, we will continue to monitor the environment around the rover with a series of Navcam and Mastcam observations and standard set of pressure and temperature measurements.