MISSION UPDATES | July 17, 2021

Sols 3180-3182: Wrapping Up at Pontours

Written by Vivian Sun, Planetary Geologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
This is a colored image of the sandy, rocky surface of Mars. There are some large textured rocks with light shinning on them. The rough texture of the rock is emhpasized by tiny shadows on the rock. The large rocks are on a grainy sand-like surface.

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm, on July 15, 2021, Sol 3178 of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS. Download image ›

As with all 3-sol plans we prepare on Fridays, we packed today's plan with activities to make sure that Curiosity has plenty to do over the weekend! Curiosity is wrapping up her most recent drill campaign on "Pontours" while thoroughly documenting her surroundings.

As you will tell from the number of target names in this blog, this plan was packed! Picking the names for the targets is an aspect of planning that I always look forward to – in between planning these activities, we also learn a lot about the locations on Earth from which these names originate.

Over the weekend we will be completing the drill campaign by collecting MAHLI, APXS, and Mastcam multispectral observations of the dumped sample to document its texture and composition. We will also be taking a closer look at a nodule called "Chanterac" (image linked above) using MAHLI and APXS; these observations will use a rastering technique which will help us deconvolve signals from the nodule versus signals from the bedrock.

Other observations include Mastcam and/or Supercam on: "Bouzic," a cluster of dark rock fragments; "Ponteyraud" and "Bussiere Galant," two areas with nodules and other alteration textures; and "La Jemaye," an example of less-altered bedrock to contrast with the diagenetic observations. We will also acquire two mosaics on targets "Tremolat" and "Villetoureix," which are rocks peppered with abundant diagenetic features, and on "Lolme," a trough filled with sand. Atmospheric activities spread throughout the weekend include numerous Navcam observations and a dust devil survey and movie, as well as a ChemCam passive sky and Mastcam full tau observations.