MISSION UPDATES | September 14, 2022

Sols 3594-3595: An Unexpected Stop, the Sequel

Written by Scott VanBommel, Planetary Scientist at Washington University
Mosaic image taken by NASA's Mars Curiosity rover.

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity took 33 images in Gale Crater using its mast-mounted Right Navigation Camera (Navcam) to create this mosaic. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Navcam image of Curiosity's right-middle and right-rear wheels.
Navcam image of Curiosity's right-middle and right-rear wheels. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

As Dr. Abigail Fraeman noted a couple weeks ago, Curiosity is navigating through terrain that is difficult to traverse. At the start of today's planning cycle, Curiosity's operations team received data that informed us that our previously planned drive came up short, only completing 36 cm of a planned ~7 m drive. Curiosity remained surrounded by a mix of large rocks and sand, neither of which are overly amenable to swift Mars driving. In the case of the prior intended drive, Curiosity terminated mobility activities autonomously, prompted by the effects of having the right-rear wheel in sand and the right-middle wheel perched on a sizable rock.

The plan today focused on backing Curiosity out of this configuration, and re-re-attempting the intended drive. In terms of science in the plan, our mobility goals were complemented by DAN activities before (passive) and after (active) our drive. Prior to the drive, Curiosity completed Mastcam and ChemCam imaging activities before unstowing the arm to acquire MAHLI images of the raised-fin target "Tiger Pond" and a vein-like target "La Mata."