MISSION UPDATES | January 8, 2021

Sols 2996-2998: Retracing Our Steps

Written by Abigail Fraeman, Planetary Geologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Mars terrain as seen by the Front Hazard Avoidance Camera

"Hazcam the scuff on top of a scuff," is an image taken by Front Hazard Avoidance Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 2995. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

As we were finishing up our measurements at the “Sands of Forvie,” we decided to give the sand one last good kick – er, scuff – on our way out. We received images of the new scuff this morning, and it gives us an even closer look into the ripple’s interior, which will help us understand its structure. After the scuff, we planned to retrace our steps and get in position to study some rocks we’d seen from our previous sol 2977 parking location. This morning, we were happy to see the small rocks we had been targeting were indeed in our workspace. I think it’s really amazing that the rover drivers were able to place Curiosity in front of these centimeter sized objects completely autonomously AFTER scuffing the sand and then driving more than 20 m over Martian sand and rocks.

Today we planned MAHLI and APXS observations on two rocks in our workspace, and we named the spots we observed “Nugarth” and “Kleber.” We’re also going to study the rock with the Kleber target in two additional places using ChemCam, and we named these new spots “St. Andrew’s Square,” and “St. Vigeans.” We’ll finish up our characterization with some multispectral observations that will tell us about the color properties of the rocks, and in addition to more targeted Mastcam mosaics to observe other features in the area in color at high resolution. Finally, we’ll take some long distance RMI mosaics looking higher up Mt. Sharp and perform a variety of environmental science observations, including studying the composition of the atmosphere using SAM. After completing our observation, we’ll pack up and hit the road once more, driving more than 60 meters back to our strategic route and onwards to the sulfate unit!