MISSION UPDATES | July 23, 2021

Sols 3187-3189: Examining a Linear Ridge

Written by Ken Herkenhoff, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center
The Curiosity rover took this black and white image of a hill with rocks on the surface of Mars.

This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3185. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

The Sol 3185 drive went well, placing the rover near a low, linear ridge shown in the lower left part of the above image. This ridge attracted the attention of the tactical science team so several observations of it are included in the 3-sol weekend plan, starting with a ChemCam LIBS raster on a dark, rough target named "Chalagnac" and a Mastcam 5x2 stereo mosaic of the area surrounding Chalagnac. Mastcam will also take a 5x1 stereo mosaic of a nearby trough before the arm activities begin. The DRT will be used to brush dust off a bedrock target dubbed "Chauffour" and ChemCam's RMI will be used to take pictures of the drill bit to look for changes. MAHLI will then take full suites of images of Chauffour and a nearby darker target called "Le Manet," then the APXS will be placed on Le Manet for an evening integration and on Chauffour for a longer overnight integration. The resulting data should be useful in measuring differences in the chemical composition of these targets.

On the second sol, Mastcam will acquire a big stereo mosaic of a butte to the west of the rover, then ChemCam will fire its laser at a bedrock target named "Campsegret" and acquire a 10x1 RMI mosaic of layering exposed in a cliff face toward the south. Mastcam will then take a documentation image of the Campsegret laser spots, a multispectral observation of the Chauffour brushed spot, and measure the dust in the atmosphere above the rover by imaging the Sun. Navcam will then search for dust devils and clouds and measure the dust opacity within Gale Crater. A drive toward the southwest is then planned, followed by the standard post-drive imaging of the terrain surrounding new rover location.

The third sol begins with a ChemCam LIBS observation of an autonomously-selected target and a CheMin maintenance activity. Later that afternoon, Mastcam will acquire a 13x2 stereo mosaic of a butte toward the southeast of the expected post-drive location and Navcam will survey the sky. Early in the morning of Sol 3190, Navcam will again search for clouds and Mastcam will again measure the dust in the atmosphere above the rover and across Gale Crater. Another busy weekend for our intrepid explorer!