MISSION UPDATES | February 3, 2021

Sols 3022-3023: At the Contact

Written by Kristen Bennett, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center
Parts of Curiosity rover are visible in this image of Mars

This image was taken by Right Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3020. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Curiosity is currently within the fractured intermediate unit and in the previous drive the rover reached a contact between two sub-units. On one side of the contact there are many large broken pieces of bedrock (rubbly; left side of above image), while the other side is smoother (right side of above image). In this plan we are characterizing the contact before driving into the rubbly sub-unit.

Several Mastcam mosaics are planned that span across the contact so we can document this view. There is also a contact science target, “Tamnies,” that will be our last contact science target in this sub-unit before the rover crosses into the rubbly fractured intermediate unit. Both an APXS observation and MAHLI images are planned at Tamnies, in addition to a Mastcam multispectral observation.

The plan includes a Deimos transit observation in the afternoon. In this observation Mastcam will take several images to capture Mars’s moon Deimos as it moves across the sun.

A ~25-meter drive is planned for Curiosity to venture into the rubbly fractured intermediate unit and continue traversing towards the next key target: the sulfate unit.