5 February 2019

Sol 2313-2314: Cruising the Clay-bearing Unit

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Curiosity is cruising through the clay-bearing unit on some compacted clast-rich soil, seen in this capture from Navcam. It’s some of the best driving terrain we’ve encountered in Gale Crater, with just some occasional sandy patches in the lee of small ridges. Our route will take us northward along the east and south flank of the Vera Rubin Ridge toward our anticipated first drilling stop in the clay-bearing unit. Along the way, we’re stopping regularly for ‘touch-and-go’ contact science, including in today’s plan. Given the lack of even modest size rocks or bedrock outcrops nearby, we targeted a small soil patch termed ‘Alba.’ We also will use ChemCam and Mastcam to interrogate the area around Alba, in addition to some geologic targets both near and far.

Now that we’re driving along the edge of the Vera Rubin Ridge, it blocks our view of the dune fields to the north and west that were our preferred targets for observing dust devils. In today’s plan, we’ll look toward Mt. Sharp (toward the east-southeast) with a long-duration dust devil movie to see if that area may also be conducive to dust devils.

Written by Scott Guzewich, Atmospheric Scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center