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Curiosity Blogs: Sols 2931-2932: Stop and Go

November 3, 2020

Curiosity is on the road to the sulfate unit, but there are always stops on a road trip. The drive did not finish in the weekend plan, so today’s plan will include re-sequencing that drive. However, the operations team always keeps going and they created an impressive plan that includes contact science, remote science, and a drive. 


The shortened drive placed the rover in a location surrounded by pebbles and loose soil, so the APXS and MAHLI target, “Rachan,” is a pebble near the rover. The ChemCam target, “Lee,” is a different pebble near the rover. It is always good to document the composition of the terrain, even if that means targeting a lot of pebbles! Several Mastcam mosaics are planned that cover the rocks carved into benches Curiosity will explore over the next few weeks. There will also be a dust devil movie in an attempt to spot more dust devils during this windy season. 

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity image captured by MAHLI
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm, on October 29, 2020, Sol 2926 of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, at 12:36:55 UTC. When this image was obtained, the focus motor count position was 13205. This number indicates the internal position of the MAHLI lens at the time the image was acquired. This count also tells whether the dust cover was open or closed. Values between 0 and 6000 mean the dust cover was closed; values between 12500 and 16000 occur when the cover is open. For close-up images, the motor count can in some cases be used to estimate the distance between the MAHLI lens and target. For example, in-focus images obtained with the dust cover open for which the lens was 2.5 cm from the target have a motor count near 15270. If the lens is 5 cm from the target, the motor count is near 14360; if 7 cm, 13980; 10 cm, 13635; 15 cm, 13325; 20 cm, 13155; 25 cm, 13050; 30 cm, 12970. These correspond to image scales, in micrometers per pixel, of about 16, 25, 32, 42, 60, 77, 95, and 113.Most images acquired by MAHLI in daylight use the sun as an illumination source. However, in some cases, MAHLI's two groups of white light LEDs and one group of longwave ultraviolet (UV) LEDs might be used to illuminate targets. When Curiosity acquired this image, the group 1 white light LEDs were off, the group 2 white light LEDs were off, and the ultraviolet (UV) LEDS were off.Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

In addition, the image shown above is from the Hedgehope Hill MAHLI mosaic taken last week. I wasn’t on shift for today’s busy plan but I was pretty busy last week when I helped plan this mosaic. This gorgeous observation is part of a “dog’s eye” mosaic (where MAHLI gets down low to the ground to look at the side of a rock) that will help scientists learn how the sediment in this rock was deposited.

By Kristen Bennett