MISSION UPDATES | August 29, 2022

Sols 3578-3579: A Whole New World!

Written by Elena Amador-French, Science Operations Coordinator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
This seam-corrected mosaic provides a 360-degree cylindrical projection panorama of the Martian surface centered at 172 degrees azimuth and the images used were taken on August 28, 2022, Sol 3576 of the Mars Science Laboratory mission at drive 966, site number 97.

Curiosity took these images on August 28, 2022, Sol 3576 of the Mars Science Laboratory mission at drive 966, site number 97. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

After a successful 13 meter weekend drive, Curiosity finds itself in the middle of “Marker Band” valley. The underlaying bedrock has changed dramatically over the last week, from dark and nodular to light-toned and relatively smooth. This area has been of interest to the science team since Gale crater was first selected as the landing site, 10 years in the making! The orbital mineralogical information suggests the presence of Mg-sulfate bearing rocks in this area. Today’s two sol plan provides our first opportunity to measure the dust-free chemical composition of this new type of bedrock with our APXS instrument, the team chose the target “Micobie.” In addition to Micobie, MAHLI will image “Jacamim,” another bedrock target. We’ll also take a ChemCam LIBS measurement of the bedrock target “Jacamim.” These measurements will help place our orbital measurements into local context and help us piece together the story of how the chemical composition of Mt. Sharp has changed over its history.

Beyond studying the local bedrock, we are taking advantage of the fantastic 360 degree view around us to image exposures of the marker band on top and west of the “Bolivar” butte, as well as the stratigraphy expressed on the “Orinoco” and “Kulenan” buttes using Mastcam and ChemCam.

We will also continue our regular cadence of environmental monitoring measurements.

Our drive will take us another 14 or so meters into Marker Band valley as we investigate how the orbital indicator of Mg-sulfate is expressed in the bedrock at the rover scale over the next week.