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December 13, 2021

As we continue exploring Maria Gordon notch, we are planning a touch and go with lots of remote sensing activities between the "touch" and the "go."

Image taken by NASA's Curiosity Navigation Camera on Mars
This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3324 (2021-12-12 14:37:35 UTC). 

MSL is parked near the base of the cliff to the west, and the science team is interested in investigating the bedrock in this area. Unfortunately, none of the bedrock targets shown near the top of the image above are suitable for close APXS placement, so we will not be able measure the bedrock chemistry here using APXS. Rather, MAHLI will take images of a bedrock target named "Portgower" and ChemCam will sample the chemistry of another bedrock target "Thornhill" higher up the cliff face. Mastcam and Navcam will be used to monitor the dust content of the atmosphere and search for dust devils, then Mastcam will acquire 3 stereo mosaics of the cliffs and boulders near the rover. After the ~20-meter drive and post-drive imaging, another MARDI twilight image is planned. Because more power is available that initially expected, we were able to add an overnight CheMin wheel move and empty cell analysis to the plan. The second sol is much simpler, with a ChemCam observation of an autonomously-selected bedrock target and more Navcam and Mastcam observations of the atmospheric dust.

Written by Kenneth Herkenhoff, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center