Science and Exploration

Curiosity Rover Update: Sols 3739-3741: Cloud Gazing While Getting Ready To Drill

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
February 12, 2023
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Curiosity Rover Update: Sols 3739-3741: Cloud Gazing While Getting Ready To Drill
This image was taken by Right Navigation Camera onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3737 (2023-02-10 02:44:08 UTC). Larger image Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The team is taking a little time to work through the best strategy for drilling here, so today’s plan just focused on collecting additional contact science and remote sensing data from around the future Dinira drill target.

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of interesting things to look at from our current position, so the science team had lots of fun deciding on what rocks to observe. We’re going to get composition and fine scale texture on a flat area near Dinira by using the DRT, APXS, and MAHLI on a target we’ve named “Yakarinta.”

We’ll also take the opportunity to learn more about the resistant features on the top of this rock, using APXS and MAHLI on a target named “Itu” as well as a ChemCam observation of a target called “Los Caracoles.” A nearby block that was churned up by the rover’s wheels gives us a rare opportunity to see a freshly exposed face of the Marker Band rocks, so we’ll take advantage by collecting a ChemCam and MAHLI observation of this rock on targets named “Macuanatapurucuara” and “Uraricaá” respectively. Finally, ChemCam will observe a nearby block named “El Pato,” and Mastcam will acquire lots of mosaics of the surrounding area.

Curiosity will additionally be looking up several times this weekend as “noctilucent cloud season” has returned to Gale crater! Noctilucent (Latin for “night shining”) clouds light up right around sunset, and we first found them several years ago forming very high in the sky during the early winter months at Gale crater. These clouds are likely made of carbon dioxide ice, and we’ll be monitoring them for the next few weeks. We have already caught some great images this season!

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.