20 September 2017
On Sol 1821, Curiosity successfully completed contact science activities at ‘Pennessewassee’ and ‘Passadumkeag’. Perhaps in an effort to get to more easily pronounceable rock targets, today’s tactical team planned a nice long drive towards our next waypoint on Vera Rubin Ridge.
The Sol 1822 plan begins with a Navcam movie to look for clouds above the northern rim of the crater. Then Curiosity will turn her attention towards the bedrock targets in front of her, using both Mastcam and ChemCam to assess the spectral character of yesterday’s DRT target ‘Passadumkeag’ and to assess the composition and sedimentary structures exposed at ‘Hypocrites Ledge.’ We’ll also use Mastcam to monitor the movement of fines on the rover deck. Then Curiosity will gear up for a drive of ~40 m, as we work our way towards the next waypoint (located in the top center of the Mastcam image shown above). Downlink data volume was a challenge today, so the team had to think carefully about the priorities of post-drive imaging to prepare for possible touch-and-go contact science and other remote sensing in tomorrow’s plan. The afternoon post-drive imaging block also contains some extended Navcam coverage for additional geologic context and targeting, as well as two Navcam observations to search for clouds and monitor the wind direction near the zenith. With drives like these, we’re really reminded that we have a mountain-climbing robot on Mars!
Written by Lauren Edgar, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center