25 July 2019

Sol 2477: Records measured in degrees

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Image taken by Curiosity’s Navcam: Left B (NAV_LEFT_B) onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 2476 (2019-07-25 06:04:28 UTC). It is pointed at Mt. Sharp and shows impressively just how steep a tilt the rover currently has.

Europeans, Californians… and many others on the team watched their thermometers rise to record highs today, reaching 36 °C in this blogger’s hometown ‘Milton Keynes.’ Thinking about planning, where we currently think about cold, wintertime temperatures on Mars and tosol‘s maximum temperature was -30 °C according to REMS, this 66 °C difference in temperature is a very practical demonstration of orbital mechanics and other factors, and more generally how different Earth and Mars are!

Temperatures are not today’s most important record, though: Curiosity is currently tilted 25° – more than ever before, during science operations. The image above shows just how much this is. Never mind that slope…., Curiosity will get her arm out to investigate the outcrop in front of her. Since lamination and other sedimentary features are exceptionally well accessible, we planned a MAHLI dog’s-eye mosaic to study all the details on this target called ‘East Caithness Cliff.’ ChemCam will target some of the layers of East Caithness Cliff for chemistry. APXS is busy on the target ‘Cruden Bay,’ which is also part of the outcrop but at a lower level than the MAHLI mosaic. Curiosity will then drive away to reach the top of the ridge. Tomorrow she should be on closer-to-horizontal ground – which hopefully comes with a first view of the top of this ridge.

Written by Susanne Schwenzer, Planetary Geologist at The Open University