Mars Winter Rover Report Update. Bob Zimmerman BehindtheBlack.com

Dec 20, 2017, 06:21 AM

12-20-2017

(Photo: This map shows the route driven by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover from the location where it landed in August 2012 to its location in early March 2016, approaching a geological waypoint called "Naukluft Plateau."

Curiosity departed the "Gobabeb" waypoint, where it scooped samples from a sand dune for analysis, on Feb. 3, 2016, with a drive during the 1,243rd Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars.

The base image for the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. North is up. Bagnold Dunes form a band of dark, wind-blown material at the foot of Mount Sharp.

As the rover continues uphill on Mount Sharp, one category of researchers on its science team has been refreshed by the mission's second round of participating-scientist selections. NASA chose 28 participating scientists from 89 scientists who submitted proposals. They play active roles in the day-to-day science operations of the rover as members of a science team that also includes about 120 investigators and 320 collaborators.

The scale bar at lower right represents two kilometers (1.2 miles). For broader-context images of the area, see PIA17355, PIA16064 and PIA16058.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. For more information about the Mars Science Laboratory mission and the mission's Curiosity rover, visit http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl.)

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Mars Winter Rover Report Update. Bob Zimmerman BehindtheBlack.com

Curiosity For the overall context of Curiosity’s travels, see Pinpointing Curiosity’s location in Gale Crater.

Since my November 16 update, Curiosity’s travels crossing Vera Rubin Ridge, a geological bedding plain dubbed the Hematite Unit, has continued apace. They however have not been following the route that had been planned beforehand, as shown by the yellow dotted line on the right. Instead, they have headed south, along the red dotted line. For the past week or so they have been doing a variety of research tasks in the same area, analyzing samples taken months before, studying sand deposits, and taking many images of some interesting rock layers.

I also suspect that the lack of movement in the past week is partly because they need to make some route-finding decisions. The planned yellow route shown above appears to be somewhat rough in the full resolution orbital image. While I suspect they will still head in that direction, I also think they are doing some very careful analysis of this route and beyond, to make sure they will not end up in a cul de sac where the rover will not be able to continue its climb of Mount Sharp.

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