MISSION UPDATES | June 4, 2021

Sols 3039-3141: Too Many Choices… A Good Problem to Have!

Written by Catherine O'Connell-Cooper, Planetary Geologist at University of New Brunswick
This image is a black and white image of our workspace taken by the Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3138.

This is an image of our workspace taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3138. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

We opened our planning program this morning to find a fantastic new workspace – we could spend a week here and still have amazing targets to choose from! We can see bedrock, with ridges and nodular features set in a very regular looking pattern, in addition to veins, veins and then more veins. So hard to choose! As the APXS planner today, I helped GEO with the difficult but always hoped for task of prioritizing and narrowing down a huge list of targets that were both reachable and interesting – they were all desirable!

In the end, APXS and MAHLI chose to analyze a nodular feature “Cladech” and a bedrock target “Beauronne” next to it. This paired sample helps us to determine the chemistry of the nodule, by allowing us to compare to “regular” bedrock and seeing what, if anything, is enriched or depleted. ChemCam will use active mode (LIBS) to analyze a second bedrock target “Lamourette” and passive mode to examine a dark vein “Petit Bersac.” The Mastcam team have their hands full with surveys of the intriguing textures in this workspace, in addition to their usual environmental monitoring activities which keep a beady eye on how much dust there is in the atmosphere above us.

Whilst it is hard leaving such an amazing workspace behind, we are moving on again, on the second sol of this plan. Our drive is planned to take us about 70 metres closer to our next drill site.