MISSION UPDATES | December 20, 2021

Sols 3333-3343: Holiday Prepping on Mars

Written by Catherine O'Connell-Cooper, Planetary Geologist at University of New Brunswick
This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3331.

This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3331. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

On Mars, like Earth, we are prepping for the holidays. Today we planned an eleven sol plan which will take us to the end of December. For this plan, the ENV instruments take the main stage, with lots of REMS activities and a rare day-long DAN passive experiment.

With such a long complex plan, contact science had to be short and sweet today. This current location is dotted with large nodular features, also identified in other recent workspaces like the one shown above from sol 3331, and we would have liked to analyze them with both APXS and MAHLI, but it was not to be. Today’s plan featured Touch and Go contact science, where APXS and MAHLI analyze a target early in the morning and then we drive to a new location. These plans need complexity to be kept low, so the challenging topography of the nodules meant they were a little too much for today. We will keep our eyes peeled for these in the coming workspaces, in the New Year!

Instead today, APXS will analyze some flatlying bedrock “Shinnel” and ChemCam will investigate “Castle Sween” which appears to be a small vertical vein face in the workspace. Mastcam will document both targets, before we drive around 60 metres to our holiday workspace, which will hopefully be chock full of gifts for all the hardworking MSL scientists and rover planners, in the form of fantastic science targets to analyze and vistas to image!