MISSION UPDATES | September 1, 2023

Sols 3934-3935: Copy and Paste

Written by Amelie Roberts, Graduate Student at Imperial College London
Navcam 360 mosaic featuring our current location, including our workspace, drive direction, and distal buttes and crater rim.

Navcam 360 mosaic featuring our current location, including our workspace, drive direction, and distal buttes and crater rim. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Earth planning date: Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Earth to Mars? Due to a communications issue, Curiosity didn’t receive its instructions on time on Monday, leading to Curiosity taking an extended weekend break - just like its British colleagues!

Today, we’re back on track with planning with a lot of discussions about the degree to which we should copy and paste the original plan intended for sols 3932 to 3933. There were debates about whether we should engage in some additional contact science, investigate some purple rocks, or conduct a DRT of some nearby enigmatic polygonal fractures. Ultimately, we settled on a complete copy and paste of the original plan (which you can read about here) as we were determined not to miss out on the planned imaging of part of the crater rim before it was obscured by hills or lose our orthogonal view of upper Gediz Vallis ridge. The GEO team were delighted with this decision, as this meant we could submit the plan ahead of schedule!

To recap the plan for sols 3934 to 3935, Mastcam will be busy with two large, stereo mosaics of upper Gediz Vallis ridge and the nearby well-layered bedrock, which features the enigmatic polygonal fractures. Additionally, Mastcam will also find the time to capture a multispectral observation of a dark float rock “Psofida,” thought to be a remnant from Gediz Vallis ridge. Meanwhile, ChemCam will not only investigate bedrock target “Amygdalea” (also documented by Mastcam), but also look much further afield towards the Peace Vallis fan and Gale crater rim (through a long distance RMI). To conclude our targeted science observations, APXS and MAHLI will investigate the composition and texture of another nearby bedrock block called “Paion”.

Following this, Curiosity will embark on its next drive along the layered sulfates, continuing the investigation on the cause of the alternating dark and light-toned banding. Finally, we will complete our untargeted observations featuring a Navcam dust devil survey and cloud altitude observations, a look at the dust in the atmosphere through a basic tau observation, and our customary post-drive terrain imaging.

With our plan submitted, let’s hope for clear skies and effective communication to Mars!