MISSION UPDATES | February 24, 2021

Sols 3042-3043: Watch Your Step!

Written by Mark Salvatore, Planetary Geologist at University of Michigan
Part of Curiosity rover and a view of Mars

This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3040. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Curiosity presses on to the east within Gale Crater, characterizing compositional variations within the underlying bedrock as we continue to march uphill and encounter sedimentary rocks that record the ancient geologic and environmental conditions within the crater. Over the past 35 sols, Curiosity has covered more than 600 meters of lateral distance as we approach these unique compositional transitions observed from orbit. The science team is continuing to make detailed analyses of the regional bedrock to make sure that we understand these transitions from the ground as well.

In today’s plan, Curiosity will be conducting a touch-and-go APXS chemistry analysis on the bedrock target "Manzac" located in front of the rover. She will also be acquiring high-resolution images of the path ahead to aid with future planning, making a suite of environmental observations, and collecting ChemCam passive spectral data on another interesting bedrock unit in front of the rover named “Tranchecouyere." One additional observation will be acquiring high-resolution color images of the target “Tourtoirac," located behind the back-right wheel of Curiosity. This target was a victim to Curiosity’s recent drive, which resulted in this rather large rock tilting onto its side under the pressure of Curiosity’s wheels. It now sticks up at approximately a 45° angle, which will allow scientists to get a good look at whether there are any well-preserved layers or morphologies that are present along the side of the rock. It’s a great bonus observation that might not have been possible had Curiosity driven a few inches in a different direction!