MISSION UPDATES | April 26, 2021

Sol 3101: What Lies Within

Written by Michelle Minitti, Planetary Geologist at Framework
A bedrock slab on Mars and part of a rover's wheel

A bedrock slab broken by the rover's wheels is visible in this image taken by Mast Camera (Mastcam) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3090. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS. Download image ›

SAM successfully analyzed the “Bardou” drill sample delivered to the instrument over the weekend, and the team was sufficiently satisfied with the results to decide we could begin the process of wrapping up our activities at the drill site and continue our climb up Mount Sharp. The main activity in today’s plan is “portion to exhaustion” where we clear out the sample in the drill stem. Before that effort, though, the team planned a full line up of remote observations of our surroundings. ChemCam planned two large RMI mosaics on the sulfate-bearing buttes towering over our future drive path further up "Mount Sharp." Previous Mastcam mosaics of these buttes have provided tantalizing peeks at stratigraphy within the peaks, and RMI will give us a slightly clearer picture of the layers and structures seen by Mastcam. Mastcam will acquire an 80+ image mosaic of the bedrock we crossed on our way up to Bardou, helping us build a fuller picture of the stratigraphy that makes up “Mont Mercou.” Mastcam will also peer inside a rock that Curiosity broke when settling in at the Bardou site. The image above is a grayscale Mastcam image of a bedrock slab broken by the wheels, with many fresh faces exposed. Mastcam will acquire a multispectral observation of the most prominent of the broken faces, dubbed “Tour Blanche,” a nod to the relatively white color of the fresh faces, at least compared to the rusty red surroundings! The team is excited to add these observations while at the same time looking uphill toward our next adventure!