MISSION UPDATES | April 5, 2021

Sols 3081-3082: Easter Drill Hunt

Written by Mariah Baker, Planetary Geologist at Center for Earth & Planetary Studies, Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
the "Mont Mercou" rock outcrop

The "Mont Mercou" rock outcrop in an image taken by the Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3079. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

The Easter holiday, which was observed yesterday in the United States, is often celebrated with traditional Easter egg hunts. On Mars, the Curiosity rover is on a hunt of her own, but instead of hunting for candy-filled eggs she’s hunting for our next drill target. Recently, the rover has been investigating the "Mont Mercou" rock outcrop (shown in the image above), and now she’s making her way around to the top of the outcrop to find a suitable place to drill. But there's always science to be done along the way!

Today, we planned two sols of rover activities with a drive in the middle. The science block on Sol 3071 included two Mastcam stereo mosaics of Mont Mercou, as well as ChemCam observations on a titanium calibration target. Navcam and Mastcam images will also be acquired to measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere. "Touch and go" contact science with the APXS and MAHLI instruments will be conducted on bedrock target "Orliac" before the rover executes a planned 19-meter drive. After the drive, the rover will acquire standard post-drive images of our next workspace with the Mastcam, Navcam, and MARDI cameras.

The untargeted science block on Sol 3072 included a long Navcam dust devil movie and a single Mastcam image to monitor accumulation of sediment on the rover’s deck. Both sols also included DAN and REMS measurements, as well as short science blocks around sunset for Navcam and Mastcam cloud imaging. In the coming sols, the rover will continue to collect even more data on the local geology and environment as she hunts for our next drill location on Mars!