MISSION UPDATES | August 17, 2023

Sols 3921-3922: Cruising to the Contact

Written by Abigail Knight, Graduate Student at Washington University
This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3919

This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3919. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Earth planning date: Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Curiosity had a successful drive on Monday and is now positioned at the transition between lighter and darker-toned materials with a myriad of exciting geologic targets to investigate in the coming sols, including dark-toned float rocks, bedrock near the contact between the sulfate unit and upper Gediz Vallis Ridge, and a cluster of texturally-diverse boulders a few meters off to the left. Actually, there were so many intriguing targets available in our workspace today that we decided to split our contact science time and squeeze two APXS targets into the plan! Sol 3921 kicks off with some short touch-and-go APXS integrations on two separate targets. Our first target (“Kamenianoi”) is a dark-toned float rock that has presumably tumbled down from upper Gediz Vallis Ridge, and our second target (“Eleftheroupoli”) is dusty bedrock near the contact. Both of these targets will be imaged by MAHLI as well.

We also have many targets being investigated via remote sensing on Sol 3921. The targeted science block in the morning includes a Navcam line-of-sight observation, Mastcam imaging of targets “Kamenianoi”, “Aegina” (laminated bedrock), “Eleftheroupoli”, “Ano Potamia” (a dark-toned block), and “Kalavryton” (a clast), as well as a Mastcam calibration target observation. ChemCam will perform LIBS on target “Aegina” and acquire a 10x1 long-distance RMI mosaic of a fractured area. Later on Sol 3921, we have a short drive to a long-awaited cluster of diverse boulders to our left that we plan to investigate over the upcoming three-sol weekend plan. We then have our standard post-drive imaging to assess our new workspace for contact science and document clasts and soil along the rover’s traverse.

On Sol 3922, we have a Mastcam basic tau to measure the optical depth of the atmosphere and an observation of the line-of-sight extinction of the crater rim to assess dust in the atmosphere. We have also planned post-drive ChemCam AEGIS, a Navcam dust devil movie, and a Mastcam sky survey. As Curiosity continues onward to Gediz Vallis Ridge in the coming sols, there should continue to be no shortage of fantastic targets to study along the way!