MISSION UPDATES | March 21, 2024

Sols 4132-4133: Back to the u.G.V.R.

Written by Sharon Wilson Purdy, Planetary Geologist at Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 4130.

This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 4130. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

If the Curiosity rover had a song stuck in her head today, she might be humming “Back to the uGVR,” to the tune of The Beatles “Back in the U.S.S.R,” as she drives south along the eastern edge of the upper Gediz Vallis Ridge (uGVR). The rover drove up to the uGVR last summer and investigated several rocks; now with the beautiful “Fascination Turret” section of the uGVR in sight, the team is very excited to have another opportunity to further characterize the material within the ridge and assess the nature of its contact with the underlying Mt. Sharp bedrock.

The rover’s excellent power situation for this two-sol plan yielded the ability to do a wide range of activities. In the workspace in front of us, we used MAHLI to image a vertical banded rock with veins at “Col de Doodad.” We used the dust removal tool (DRT) and MAHLI to characterize the grain size and material in a flat bedrock target named “Three Tooth Doodad.” ChemCam LIBS will analyze a laminated ridge within bedrock at the “Kuna Crest” target with Mastcam providing a complementary context image. Mastcam planned stereo mosaics within the workspace to document small-scale laminations and to investigate the nature of subtle variations between light and dark bedrock at the “East Vidette” target. The “Giant Forest” Mastcam mosaic was scheduled to document interesting fractures in the nearby bedrock.

Looking off in the distance, the plan includes several observations of the Fascination Turret section of the uGVR so we can view it from different angles as we drive along our upcoming route. ChemCam was able to fit two long distance RMI images into the plan that document interesting ledges within Fascination Turret, while Mastcam put together a mosaic of the lower portion of the ridge to evaluate the composition, structure, and its relationship with the underlying bedrock.

Our plan incorporates several ENV activities including a dust devil survey, a suprahorizon movie, and a sky survey. Keep on humming along, Curiosity!