MISSION UPDATES | March 29, 2021

Sols 3074-3075: Forecasting High Chance of Clouds at 'Mont Mercou!'

Written by Catherine O'Connell-Cooper, Planetary Geologist at University of New Brunswick
Twilight clouds over "Mont Mercou" on mars

Twilight clouds over "Mont Mercou" as seen by the Right Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3072. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

We are finishing up at the "Nontron" drill locale and moving onto the next stage of investigating the beautiful "Mont Mercou" outcrop. We continue our usual cadence of looking at compositions and textures today, using both MAHLI and APXS to investigate the bedrock target “Bara Bahau.” Before moving onwards, Mastcam is taking another opportunity to get some close-up imaging of the extensive laminations on the cliff face, likely the last time we will be this close.

In today’s plan, we will drive around to the east side of the cliff and get into position to take Mastcam images of that side in Wednesday’s plan. Once we have documented that side, we will drive back across the front of the outcrop and image the western side. This will provide us with a unique 3-D perspective on this cliff and will hopefully help our scientists to understand how this amazing outcrop formed.

The Environmental Theme Group (ENV) and Mastcam planned another twilight cloud movie for sol 3074, similar to that on sol 3072, which resulted in the incredible image of clouds above Mont Mercou, shown above. We are at the beginning of Gale crater’s cloudy season, and in the middle of a period where the potential for the formation of twilight clouds is higher than usual. ENV are taking advantage of this to observe and analyze clouds and cloud formations.