MISSION UPDATES | November 4, 2022

Sols 3641-3642: Sausages?! 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 3642.

This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3642. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

We are perched just below the “Marker Band,” a thin dark band whose origin is unclear. As Michelle noted yesterday, we found some amazing textured float rocks in our workspace but were not in a good position to do contact science here, so we moved back a little in order to get it today.

These float rocks appear to have originated in the Marker Band, which can be seen running from lower left to upper right in the accompanying Navcam image. There are several different textures here – the most noticeable are the ropey elongated ridge features, or “sausages” as one of our colleagues Juergen described them. Underlying the sausages features is smoother bedrock. There are also rougher areas on top of the sausages, which look like they might have been altered (by later fluid movement for example). Finally we have the underlying non-Marker Band bedrock, the smooth rock the floats themselves are sitting on.

It was hard to narrow down our choices with so many interesting targets; we wanted to do a little bit of everything. The rover planners were game to get as much in as possible, so APXS and MAHLI get a rare triple whammy of targets: unbrushed on the sausages at “Iracema,” brushed underlying smooth float rock at “Mel” and then brushed in-place non-Marker Band bedrock at “Mamupi.” Mastcam is getting multispectral imagery on both brushed targets and ChemCam is using LIBS to also analyze the bedrock at Mel.

ChemCam is then turning its focus onto the in-place Marker Band above us, using RMI to image the ropey textures at “Pintada” and LIBS to analyze “Soco,” a bright rock where the Marker Band is in contact with the local bedrock. RMI will also capture images of layering within that in-place Marker Band at “Buena Vista.”

Mastcam continues to document stratigraphy in this area, taking a very large mosaic (83 images) along the Marker Band itself and a slightly smaller (46 images) mosaic on “Canta,” a butte in the distance but above the Marker Band (in the upper left of the Navcam image).

Once all of this has been completed, we drive a short distance, scooching closer to the in-place Marker Band, for the coming weekend plan.