MISSION UPDATES | December 3, 2020

Sols 2960-2961: Marching Forward!

Written by Mark Salvatore, Planetary Geologist at University of Michigan
black and white surface of Mars

This image was taken by Front Hazard Avoidance Camera (Front Hazcam) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 2959. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Curiosity continues to make swift progress on her climb up Mt. Sharp. After ascending a relatively steep portion over the last few weeks, Curiosity is now on “flatter” ground and covering lots of ground with each drive. At today’s location, Curiosity is stopped to investigate the local bedrock and to acquire some long-distance and high-resolution images of the interesting outcrops that lie ahead. The team selected four targets to analyze using the ChemCam LIBS instrument to better characterize the chemistry of the local bedrock. Three of these targets are designed to characterize color variations in relatively smooth bedrock, while the final target was selected to investigate a more nodular piece of bedrock observed in front of the rover. There are also two long-distance Mastcam color mosaics of some likely geologic transitions located ahead of the rover, as well as a Mastcam multispectral observation of two large boulders to the east. These multispectral observations will help the team to determine whether there are compositional differences between the boulders and the surrounding landscape, which could help to decipher the origin of the boulders and whether they represent more exotic geologic units than those currently being explored. In the coming days, Curiosity will stick around at this location as we gather more data and perform some routine rover maintenance before continuing her march to the east.