MISSION UPDATES | July 14, 2021

Sols 3178-3179: What Time Is It…

Written by Susanne Schwenzer, Planetary Geologist at The Open University
This is a black and white image of the sandy landscape of Mars. The front of the image displays a part of the Curiosity rover. About a handful of large rocks of different textures are to the left of the image. There are many hills dimly  displayed in the background.

Seeing our rover and its instruments in context with the Martian landscape never stops to inspire, seen here the rover turret with APXS pointing upwards at the parking location for the “Pontours” drill hole. This image was taken by Right Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3177. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

'We are expecting to hear from them at 11 am' – well, that was said at 5 pm local time for me, serving as GeoSTL today. Our little discussion about 'whose 11 am' we were talking about is once more a reminder how our international team is spread across our home planet! In today’s planning, like on most planning days, we are spread as far as from Pasadena in California, where JPL - our home base - is, to France, where many ChemCam team members are operating from, with many SAM team members at the East coast of the US, and your today’s blogger in the UK somewhere in between. That’s a spread from Pacific daylight time to Central European summer time, in other words 9 time zones… and of course it was 11 am in Pasadena that we were talking about! But, back to Mars, where we are planning the activities for two sols today, luckily all in one time zone, and only with the orbiter timescales for uplinks and downlinks to consider.

APXS and MAHLI will start the day looking at the drill fines of the "Pontours" drill hole. Check out Lucy’s blog from sols 3171-3172 for more details. As Lucy said, it’s our 32nd drill hole – and sitting in an exciting and very interesting looking area.

Around the drill site, we have spotted many different textures and colours; and as we know from being on Mars for over 3100 sols now, different colours and textures may mean interesting discoveries. Therefore, we have decided for Curiosity to investigate the more reddish features spotted on a rock close to the rover with ChemCam, investigating a target called "Belcayre." There are also darker features on the same rock, which Curiosity will have ChemCam target "La Bastide" on. Mastcam is targeting "La Bastide" as well, adding multispectral information to the dataset. Mastcam is also targeting "Lempzours," which is a resistant feature in the distance. The mosaic will expand an existing mosaic to give us even more information on the many textures in this scene. Make sure to check out the raw images section, especially if you are interested in rock textures.