MISSION UPDATES | November 19, 2020

Sols 2947-48: Follow the Red Brick Road

Written by Scott Guzewich, Atmospheric Scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Black and white view of Mars

This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 2943 (2020-11-16 03:47:36 UTC). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

We are continuing our “benches” mini-campaign and the current bench is spread out before us like a brick road on our way to our next stop. Curiosity is continuing to study these erosion-resistant rock layers as we drive steadily toward the sulfate unit of Mt. Sharp. In today’s plan, we passed on an opportunity for additional contact science and instead chose a variety of remote sensing with ChemCam and Mastcam. Outside of two nearby targets for ChemCam LIBS, ChemCam was looking forward to the sulfate unit with a long-distance image. In this way, ChemCam almost works like the rover’s binoculars to see detail in distant terrains!

In addition, I planned a long dust devil movie and cloud monitoring activities as ENV theme group lead. We also were able to include bonus ENV science today. To best maintain the rover’s battery, we like to maintain a medium-to-high level of charge, but not too close to 100% charged. In fact, on occasion, we keep the rover awake so the battery doesn’t get too close to fully charged. Now, we have a new science activity to include in the rover’s plan whenever this is needed. It’s a combination of our cloud and dust devil movies and today we’ll include it in the evening of Sol 2948 to look for both of these atmospheric processes.