MISSION UPDATES | July 22, 2022

Sols 3541-3543: Teamwork? Sure!

Written by Susanne Schwenzer, Planetary Geologist at The Open University
This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3540, showing target 'Merume.'

This image shows target ‘Merume’ and was taken by Navcam left on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3540. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Some planning days are more complicated than others, not because Mars throws us a curve ball, that happens, too, as regular readers of this blog will know. No, sometimes it’s just plain old computer issues here on Earth that make things complicated. Today was such a day, and some of our personal computers hadn't properly updated one of the tools, but when we found out it was too late to diagnose that this was the case and re-install everything as we had to get on with planning. I was Geo science team lead today, and my computer was also guilty of it. Thus, me and a few random others could not see parts of what was happening, especially the tool where we look at the targets we are planning. That’s like driving with half of the windscreen obscured. It is very frustrating, yes, you are right! But, amazing teamwork, lots of screenshots by people who could see what we needed to see, patience and constantly making sure all descriptions are accurate and in place everywhere got us around it and we delivered a full plan, as you see below. I love this team for what we can do even if we get a curve ball from any one of the two planets involved, just because everyone focuses so much to make it work.

We are particularly excited here today as we have spotted some really nice bedrock just in front of the rover, which we will of course measure with APXS and MAHLI, a target now named ‘Motocuruna.’ But bedrock is not the only interesting feature in the area, there are also veins that we were particularly interested in. APXS and MAHLI look at those, too, on a target named ‘Benhori Bumoko:’ but that’s not all as MAHLI also peeks off to the side of Motocuruna onto target ‘Serra da Mocidade’ for some more context on the bedrock.

ChemCam has a busy day too, investigating three targets with LIBS and one target with a long distance RMI. The long distance RMI is looking at a structure higher up on the mountain which might be traceable for quite some distance, so is of particular interest to observe. LIBS investigations are on the two APXS targets Motocuruna and Benhori Bumoko, and on another bedrock target named ‘Lethem.’

Mastcam has a very busy day, too, with two multispectral investigations, one on the APXS target Motocuruna, and another one on a small float rock with striped textures that are also remarkable rich in contrast, named ‘Merume’ and shown in today’s title image above. ‘Auaris’ is a target that also stands out for its appearance and texture and thus was another Mastcam target. Two more targets are looking at all the sedimentary details around us, ‘Malonquinha’ and ‘Tumatumari.’

As we are just starting the summer at Gale crater, we are also continuing our atmospheric monitoring in some detail. The DAN instrument has an observation and of course MARDI takes its image. Looks like a lot? Well, yes, but Curiosity will also do some housekeeping as it photographs the MAHLI magnets to monitor dust accumulation. It’s a long weekend, so we keep the rover busy.