MISSION UPDATES | September 3, 2021

Sols 3228-3231: Try This Again…

Written by Susanne Schwenzer, Planetary Geologist at The Open University
This is a black and white image of the smooth, sandy surface of Mars. There are two low hills in the background with lots of small scattered boulders.

This image was taken by Mast Camera (Mastcam) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3225. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS. Download image ›

Looking over the shoulder, well, over our UHF antenna, onto a spectacular landscape. The higher we climb the more spectacular and rugged the scenery appears. This image was taken by Mast Camera (Mastcam) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3225.

Our recent two-sol plan for sols 3226-3227 was not uplinked, so the rover had a two-sol break. The next plan is a four-sol plan because of Monday being the Labor Day holiday in the US. As a consequence, the plan now has drill preparations, such as doing a ChemCam raster, the DRT and Mastcam multispectral observation of the drill site on sol 3228, and getting CheMin ready, too. Curiosity will drill at "Maria Gordon" on sol 3229, followed by portion characterization, and Mastcam multispectral investigation and ChemCam passive spectral investigation of the drill tailings. So, when we come back from our holiday here on Earth, we shall see images of drill hole #33 on Mars. Second time lucky!

With a four-sol plan to come, there is a lot more to do for Curiosity. We are back in the season where frost events are likely. Therefore, a frost detection investigation on the target "Mangersta Sands" is in the plan, whereby the target will be investigated twice, once very early in the morning and once during daytime for a comparison of the hydrogen, a proxy for water content at different times. Mastcam is taking two large mosaics to document the spectacular landscape – because spectacular to look at is not just an aesthetic judgement, there is a lot of geology to see, too, with different layers, textures and structures. Last but not least, we also have the standard atmospheric observations, DAN and REMS investigations.