18 July 2019
Today, Curiosity finds itself parked in front of a fascinating area of martian bedrock with clearly lighter and darker colored areas next to each other as seen in the Navcam image above. This will be a ‘full’ contact science location and the rover will spend the next few sols examining the rocks in this immediate area just in front of the Southern Outcrop. A target on the lighter-colored bedrock was termed ‘Solway Firth’ and it will get a ChemCam LIBS target and the full dust-removal tool treatment before APXS and MAHLI observations. The second contact science location (without the dust removal) will be ‘Nith’ on the darker-colored bedrock.
The second sol of today’s plan will include a rare ChemCam image of the rover’s drill bit to examine how it has been worn during our years on Mars. We are into the cloudy season on Mars and included two Navcam movies to study the water ice clouds that frequent the skies above Gale Crater in the afternoons and evenings this time of year. Lastly, Mastcam will take a large, and sure to be spectacular, mosaic of the nearby Southern Outcrop.
Written by Scott Guzewich, Atmospheric Scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center