MISSION UPDATES | May 24, 2023

Sols 3839-3840: Hitting the Road After Three Weeks at Ubajara

Written by Scott VanBommel, Planetary Scientist at Washington University
This image was taken by Rear Hazard Avoidance Camera (Rear Hazcam) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3837.

This image was taken by Rear Hazard Avoidance Camera (Rear Hazcam) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3837. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Earth planning date: Wednesday, May 24, 2023

May has been a busy month for Curiosity. Our rover has been hard at work since arriving at its current location around the first of the month. In the three weeks since, Curiosity has thoroughly characterized the area around "Ubajara" and completed another successful drill campaign, its 38th such accomplishment. Curiosity's work now lies ahead, and like many in the United States this long weekend, Curiosity will hit the road. While we do not anticipate any travel congestion (we'd have quite the drive before we encounter another vehicle on Mars), we remain on the lookout for fascinating stops along the way, particularly those that may provide us with further clues as to the ancient history of Gale crater.

In today's two-sol plan we started by extending Curiosity's robotic arm first thing in the morning and cleared an oblate area (roughly the size of a sticky note) of dust using the Dust Removal Tool (DRT). This exposed the rock target "Zipaquira" for APXS analysis early in the plan, permitting us to take advantage of the favourable cool morning temperatures as Gale crater approaches winter solstice. After the quick ~30 minute APXS activity was completed, Curiosity moved the arm, took Mastcam images of the DRT'd Zipaquira location, and left the arm out of the way for further ChemCam and Mastcam activities.

ChemCam investigated the target "Karipuna" before Mastcam documented both the APXS and ChemCam targets in the plan, ahead of additional imaging of the "Boa Hora" target. As lighting became more favourable around the middle of the day for MAHLI, Curiosity moved the arm back to Zipaquira and acquired four MAHLI images at various resolutions. With these images saved on board, activities at Ubajara were completed. Curiosity then commenced the next leg of its journey: a planned drive of 37 m. At the end of the drive Curiosity acquired the requisite imaging to ensure that Friday's planning team has everything they need for a comprehensive four-sol long weekend plan.