MISSION UPDATES | April 12, 2021

Sol 3088-3089: A Beautiful View from the Top of 'Mont Mercou'

Written by Lauren Edgar, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center
view from Mont Mercou on Mars

This view from the top of Mont Mercou was taken by the Left Navigation Camera on board NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3086. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Our mountain-climbing rover has bagged another “peak” and is currently taking in the view from the top of the ~6-meter tall "Mont Mercou" cliff. Over the weekend Curiosity drove ~31 meters, which put the rover on top of the outcrop that we’ve been studying for the past several weeks. We’re assessing the top of Mont Mercou with the intent to potentially drill here, as we continue to assess variations in chemistry and mineralogy as we climb uphill.

I was on shift as SOWG Chair today, and it was a fun and straightforward day of planning. We put together a two-sol plan that starts with APXS and MAHLI observations of the target “Gout Rossignol” to characterize the bedrock in our workspace. Then Curiosity will acquire a ChemCam passive observation on the same target, as well as targets named “Monplaisant” and “Marquay” to look for variability in bedrock and veins. The team also planned several Mastcam mosaics to document bedforms at the top of the hill, look for evidence of how this cliff may have been carved, and gain additional context for the possible drill location. After an hour and half of remote sensing observations, Curiosity will drive ~4 meters to a good location for drill activities later this week. Overnight Curiosity will analyze an empty CheMin cell to prepare for upcoming investigations. The second sol includes several environmental monitoring activities, including a Navcam dust devil survey and images to assess of the dust content in the atmosphere. Just after sunset, Curiosity will wake up to take some Mastcam images of clouds in the atmosphere and a MARDI image of the terrain beneath the rover. Sounds like a lovely way to take in sunset with a view!