21 May 2017

Planning Sol 1705 – 1706: Rocky Road

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Curiosity is continuing to make progress towards Vera Rubin Ridge along the Mt Sharp ascent route.  We planned two sols today, Sol 1705 and Sol 1706.  On our first sol, we will kick off the day with some remote sensing science on the bedrock in front of us, including ChemCam observations of targets ‘Turtle Island’, ‘Stony Brook’, and ‘Dike Peak’.  Turtle Island is typical Murray bedrock, Stony Brook has an interesting dark streak running through it, and Dike Peak is a neat looking block with dark colored fracture fills.  We will complement these observations with Mastcam documentation imaging.  We’ll then go for a short drive and take some post drive imaging and a ChemCam AEGIS observation.  On the second sol of the plan, Curiosity will be focused on taking atmospheric observations, including a dust devil search and images of the crater rim and sky above us.

We didn’t drive as far as we thought we would over the weekend.  Software onboard Curiosity sensed the rover was struggling to travel over the challenging terrain more than we had anticipated, so it ended the drive early.  Because I was staffed as a Surface Properties Scientist (SPS) during planning today, I spent most of my time on shift looking at the Navcam and Hazcam data to understand what about the terrain was causing problems, and thinking about new paths to take that would still get us where we wanted to go.  I’m optimistic about our new drive route, and I’m very glad we have six-wheel drive to help us climb this mountain!

Written by Abigail Fraeman, Planetary Geologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory