16 October 2017
The seasons on Mars are long, and even though Curiosity is near the equator, the change in weather between the seasons is noticeable and winter is coming to Gale Crater. Right now it’s late fall in the southern hemisphere on Mars and the colder weather changes how we operate Curiosity. In colder weather, we need more power to heat the instruments and keep Curosity’s electronics and mechanisms warm. This reduces the amount of electricity we have to conduct science, but we were still able to prepare a full plan for the next two sols.
We identified two new bedrock targets to analyze with ChemCam (‘Woodlands’ and ‘Montecristo’, which are near the bottom portion of this image: https://mars.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/?rawid=NLB_560929716EDR_F0661332NCAM00279M_&s=1841). For Sol 1843, we also planned a series of Mastcam images of nearby bedrock targets that were analyzed with ChemCam as well as interesting spots in the distance, including a layered ledge on the Vera Rubin Ridge and a possibly hematite-rich patch called ‘Iron Mask’ which we may drive near in the future. We also will drive approximately 22 m towards our next target on Sol 1843.
For Sol 1844, we planned an expansive series of environmental monitoring activities. As we approach winter, the martian atmosphere gets cloudier and we planned a series of Navcam movies to search for clouds as well as a triplet of Mastcam images to determine the amount of dust and ice in the atmosphere and how it varies over the day. We additionally planned two Navcam movies to search for dust devils.
Written by Scott Guzewich, Atmospheric Scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center