MISSION UPDATES | July 13, 2022

Sols 3532-3533: A Rover-Sized Boulder

Written by Lauren Edgar, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center
This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3531.

This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3531. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Curiosity is back on the road, but some interesting boulders caught our attention and led to a short detour. The team was already planning to divert to the southwest to get some imaging of nearby cliffs, but the large boulders that have tumbled down provide a tantalizing glimpse of what’s to come. Boulders like the large one shown in the above Navcam image (now named “Ilha Novo Destino”) can help inform our understanding of the upcoming stratigraphy, so we thought it was worth a trip to this “new island destination” for the weekend.

But first, there’s plenty of science to be done in our workspace before we get to the boulders. Today’s two-sol plan focused on DRT, MAHLI, and APXS on the bedrock right in front of the rover, including the interesting vein and fracture patterns shown in the foreground of the above Navcam image. Today we planned 3 MAHLI imaging targets and 2 APXS targets to assess the sedimentary textures and composition of bedrock and veins. We also planned ChemCam LIBS and Mastcam multispectral observations to further characterize this outcrop. Mastcam will also be used to document the field of boulders to help plan weekend activities, and ChemCam will acquire a long distance RMI mosaic to characterize the stratigraphy. The ENV theme group planned several environmental monitoring activities to search for dust devils and monitor dust and clouds in the atmosphere. On the second sol, Curiosity will drive to a parking spot right in front of these boulders to prepare for the weekend plan. Can’t wait to see this rover-sized boulder up close!