MISSION UPDATES | November 17, 2020

Sols 2945-2946: Should We Stay or Should We Go?

Written by Mark Salvatore, Planetary Geologist at University of Michigan
Curiosity photo of ground on Mars

This image was taken by Front Hazard Avoidance Camera (Front Hazcam) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 2943. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Curiosity will be staying busy for the next two days as the team continues to investigate the topographic “benches” as we move from the Glen Torridon region uphill towards the sulfate-bearing unit. Last week, Curiosity was positioned at the bottom of one of these benches looking at the geologic layers exposed along the side. Over the weekend, we drove around and on top of the same bench to capture a view from the top and to investigate the uppermost geologic layers. In the coming days, Curiosity will use its remote sensing instruments and the tools on her arm to investigate two spots on the top of the bench - one is a smooth portion of exposed bedrock while the other is a clearly layered rocky unit. The team had the opportunity to quickly study the top of this bench and then drive away up towards the next bench, but the team decided to stay at this location given the well-exposed rocks and the plethora of science that we can accomplish at this location. In addition, being on this topographically perched bench gives us a really stunning view and allows us to remotely characterize the geologic units that are ahead of us! Over the coming days, Curiosity will continue her drive up and over these benches, conducting additional analyses and imaging while we continue to make our way up Mt. Sharp.