5 April 2018
Factoids: Mars is the only known planet inhabited exclusively by active robots. It has been this way for over fourteen Earth years, with a cumulative total of twenty-six Earth years of roving by four vehicles. Together these rovers have logged over 70 km of distance, well over half of that by the Opportunity rover. (Curiosity will likely hit the 20 km mark later this year).
After a 38 meter drive Curiosity reached the location that the team has called Region 13 of Vera Rubin Ridge. It has been subdivided into separate nearby sites, with the current one as B1, still near the edge of the hematite ‘hotspot’ identified from orbit by CRISM. Curiosity is flirting with the boundary of the mapped ‘Biwabik’ quadrangle; pretty soon we will drive into it for a while and start using target names from northern Minnesota. The Biwabik name was selected because of the city’s connection with the Mesabi Range, which contains large deposits of Precambrian iron ore. For tosol, the rover is back into the ‘Torridon’ quad with Scottish names, a quad that Curiosity has been exploring most of the sols in the last several weeks. The team is intrigued to see some fields of dark, blocky float rocks nearby, as seen in the background in the accompanying image.
Tosol Curiosity’s science includes ChemCam, Mastcam, MAHLI, and APXS observations on ‘Lingarabay’ and ‘Kinloch’. The Dust Removal Tool will be used on the first of the two targets, which will be an overnight APXS target. MAHLI‘s observation distances will be 25 and 5 cm. Mastcam‘s right-side camera will stay busy, with a 5×1 mosaic on the ‘hematite hotspot’, a 2×1 on ‘Galloway’, a 5×1 on ‘Foula’, a 5×1 on ‘Suilven’ (targeting grain sizes along a ripple crest) and a single image on ‘Arrochar.’ Additional measurements include DAN passive, REMS and RAD acquisitions, Mastcam sun tau measurement, crater rim extinction, and calibration target observations as well as a drive direction 4×1 observation.
Written by Roger Wiens, Geochemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory