MISSION UPDATES | November 24, 2020

Sols 2951-2953: Pre-Holiday Scramble

Written by Michelle Minitti, Planetary Geologist at Framework
slope on Mars

This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 2950. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Our weekend drive stopped a bit shorter than planned when Curiosity played it safe rolling up a particularly steep (~20 degrees) slope pictured above. But even with the rover parked at a tilt, we could still accomplish all our desired science at this stage of our drive back up Mount Sharp. We will grab another observation of rock texture and chemistry with MAHLI and APXS, respectively, of “Saughieside Hill,” part of the bedrock making up the arcuate benches we have been traversing over the last couple of weeks. ChemCam will measure the chemistry of another nearby bedrock target, “Gathersnow Hill,” which sits at the edge of the lip that halted Curiosity’s drive. Mastcam will image the lovely layered structure of Gathersnow Hill in stereo, and more broadly, will acquire mosaics that capture the structures of the bedrock both behind and ahead of us. ChemCam also gets in on the imaging action, taking a small RMI mosaic of stratigraphic features in the target “Hamar.” After a ~30 meters drive, Curiosity will image the area around her with Navcam and Mastcam in preparation for activities over the upcoming American Thanksgiving long weekend, as well as the sky with a late day Mastcam image to measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere and a Navcam movie looking for clouds.

On Sol 2952, we will acquire an autonomously-targeted ChemCam analysis of the bedrock near the rover at our new post-drive location, a midday Navcam measurement of the amount of dust in the atmosphere, and a Navcam movie looking for clouds.

On the final sol of the plan, we have an environmental monitoring extravaganza with a ChemCam passive observation of the sky, Navcam and Mastcam measurements of the amount of dust in the atmosphere, Navcam images and movies to look for dust devils, and an APXS measurement of atmospheric argon. DAN, RAD, and REMS run regularly across the three sols of the plan. All told, Curiosity will stay as busy as a shopper hitting those early Black Friday deals.