MISSION UPDATES | March 31, 2021

Sols 3076-3077: Dancing Around 'Mont Mercou'

Written by Mark Salvatore, Planetary Geologist at University of Michigan
Mont Mercou on Mars

"Mont Mercou" as seen by the Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3074. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Curiosity is continuing her investigation of "Mont Mercou," the tall outcrop of bedded sedimentary rock seen in the attached image. The science team has been navigating around the base of the cliff after having successfully drilled into the "Nontron" bedrock target last week. By imaging the cliff at different viewing geometries, we are able to change both position and illumination conditions, helping us to fully map the observed structures and properties of these sedimentary rocks.

In this plan, the team has identified a nodular bedrock target to characterize using the APXS instrument on the rover’s arm, which will provide information about the chemical make-up of this bedrock material. Curiosity will also be acquiring many images using both the ChemCam and Mastcam instruments, as we are now on the eastern side of the cliff face. Following these observations, Curiosity will then navigate to the western side of the cliff face to perform a similar suite of imaging observations.

As has been mentioned in previous posts, these sorts of rock outcrops, where we can see bedding from multiple angles, are a treasure for geologists as we try to unravel the ancient environmental conditions that were once present in Gale crater. The team is cognizant of the value of this outcrop, and so we are making sure to acquire all of the observations that we need before driving away from this location.