NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 3028 duties.
Lucy Thompson, a planetary geologist on the College of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada studies that the robotic is on the ultimate method to the bottom of the sulfate-bearing unit recognized from orbit as a area of curiosity inside Gale crater lengthy earlier than the equipment landed.
“The bottom of the unit marks a change from the underlying clay-bearing strata (rock layers) that Curiosity has been investigating for the final two years,” Thompson explains.
“Clay minerals are sometimes related to wetter environmental situations and sulfate minerals with drier situations, so the contact between the 2 might signify a big change in atmosphere,” Thompson factors out. “It’s due to this fact necessary that we fastidiously doc the rocks for texture, construction and composition as we transition from the clay-bearing to sulfate-bearing unit, searching for gradual or abrupt modifications which will assist to elucidate what occurred at this boundary.”
Curiosity will first unstow her arm and place the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) on the rock goal “Firbeix” for a brief evaluation to find out the chemistry of the consultant bedrock, earlier than taking close-up photos with its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI).
Sand cracks, fractured terrain
After stowing the arm, the Chemistry and Digicam (ChemCam) instrument will take a passive spectroscopic commentary of the “Feiullade” bedrock goal, and take Distant Micro-Imager (RMI) observations of one other bedrock goal “Fraisse” and the basal layers of the sulfate-bearing unit forward.
“We will even picture the Firbeix, Feiullade and Fraisse targets with Mastcam, and take a look at some sand cracks and the fractured terrain forward with Mastcam mosaics,” Thompson provides.
Curiosity will then drive fastidiously over this blocky terrain for a deliberate distance of roughly 115 toes (35 meters). After the drive has executed, a Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) picture might be taken to seize the terrain beneath the rover’s two entrance wheels.
The second sol of this two-sol plan is dominated by environmental observations to observe the environment together with a ChemCam passive sky commentary, a Mastcam primary tau pointed in the direction of the solar, a Navcam suprahorizon film, mud satan survey and line of sight picture, Thompson studies.
Normal Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), Radiation Evaluation Detector (RAD) and Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) passive and energetic measurements will even be acquired.
“Curiosity and everybody on the Mars Science Lab crew would additionally wish to welcome Tianwen-1 to Mars. Congratulations to the Chinese language area company for a profitable insertion into Mars orbit. It’s an thrilling time for Mars missions and science,” Thompson concludes.