MISSION UPDATES | August 29, 2023

Sols 3930-3931: Wrapping up at the Ridge

Written by Emma Harris, Graduate Student at Natural History Museum, London
This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3928.

This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3928. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Earth planning date: Friday, August 25, 2023

In the next 2 sols we are wrapping up our mini campaign at the upper Gediz Vallis Ridge (uGVR) that has been documented in previous blogs over the last week or so. Before we leave however, we want to collect as much data as we can! Next, Curiosity will be driving back to the nominal Mount Sharp Ascent Route (MSAR). We diverted from the MSAR back in June in order to navigate some tricky terrain, and then again briefly here at the uGVR.

A jam-packed final 2 sols at the uGVR sees us documenting five float rocks in our workspace that we ‘bumped’ to with a ~7 m drive previously. Over the next 2 sols, the rocks “Styx,” “Knossos,” and “Stravia” will be documented by Mastcam multispectral analysis. ChemCam LIBS observations will be undertaken on Styx and on another float rock named “Elafonisos.” Elafonisos also receives complimentary Mastcam documentation. The terrain around here has been tricky to navigate, making it precarious to unstow Curiosity’s arm if we are perched on unstable rocks, but tosol was successful! The arm will be unstowed for APXS and MAHLI documentation of Knossos and the fifth and final float rock documented in this plan named “Meteora.”

Aside from the immediate workspace, we also had time in the plan to look further afield. A Mastcam mosaic of the MSAR and future drive direction will be taken, as well as two Mastcam mosaics of blocks and float rocks higher up within the uGVR. The ChemCam instrument takes the lead for two Long Distance RMIs (LD RMIs) of a block named “Argos” in the uGVR, and a second LD RMI of the yardang unit higher up on Mount Sharp. Finally, the plan is rounded off with a Navcam dust devil survey and some morning atmospheric observations. Whilst I’m sure there are many folks that wish we could hang out at the uGVR for a while longer, Mount Sharp won’t climb itself, and it’s time to get back to the MSAR. Thanks Gediz Vallis Ridge!