3 January 2018

Sols 1913-1924: Curiosity’s Working Holiday

Posted by Ryan Anderson

There’s no real rest for the rover. We planned sols 1921-1924 on December 22 and 29. Earlier, the team had planned a minimal set of activities for the rover to carry out over Sols 1913-1920, letting the science and engineering teams spend a bit of time away from work. However, this doesn’t mean Curiosity was sitting idle. There were still plenty of things to do on Mars, including some automated ChemCam AEGIS observations. These activities automatically pick out targets of interest and measure their chemistry at our current parking spot.

On New Year’s Eve, the rover started carrying out the four-sol activity plan we completed Dec. 29. This site was so interesting that we backtracked to get to where the rover was parked for this plan. In the workspace in front of the rover, we have some very peculiar targets that warranted some additional interrogation. From orbit, this location has a very interesting appearance, with bluer hues being observed in High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera data onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. On the ground, we are making Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer measurements on two targets, Haroldswick (the dark toned ‘stick’-like features observed in this Mastcam image from sol 1905) and the Raasay target. We are using these observations to help characterize the interesting compositional variability observed at this location even further. We also planned several ChemCam activities to aid in understanding this ever-evolving compositional story Curiosity is unraveling. In all, while the science and engineering teams took some time off over the holiday season, Curiosity was hard at work on Mars.

Written by Christopher Edwards, Planetary Geologist at Northern Arizona University