NASA’s Curiosity Rover Arrives in Roraima

Curiosity has awakened in a new mapping quadrant, called Roraima. The Roraima quadrant is named after the northernmost state in Brazil and Mount Roraima, which is the highest peak in the Pakaraima Mountains, which lies between Brazil, Venezuela and Guyana. The terrain in the Roraima region on Earth looks a bit like the area Curiosity is in – with flat-topped hills and some steep slopes. Curiosity will be heading towards a narrow passage surrounded by a few small flat-topped tables worthy of Roraima’s name. Looking back, Curiosity can see all the way to the Torridon quadrant and see the “Scottish Highlands” of Mars with the beautiful attached view of Marie Gordon’s carving; you can also see the rim of Gale crater in the distance.

As we head south, we’ll likely park near some of these high hills and cliffs to get close-up shots. Parking near such high terrain can sometimes block our view of orbiters if they are low in the sky, affecting how much data we can receive. We saw this kind of effect when we parked near the high, steep cliff of Marie Gordon Notch, where there was a significant data reduction on one of our communication passes with the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO). We will take this into account to ensure that we still get the data we need for planning.

The first activity included a touch and go, which includes some contact science, targeted science, and a walk. Our contact science target, “Green,” is a small lump of rock with nodules, similar to many of the other rocks we’ve investigated recently. The scientific team will be able to compare its composition to previous targets to continue to build a picture of the geological and chemical changes preserved in the region. Rover planners will retract the arm again in preparation for driving and to provide a clear view of the target for the cameras.

The target science of the plan will also investigate the nodules by looking at “Maurak”, another close target, with ChemCam and Mastcam. ChemCam is also taking RMI images of a distant mount called “Mirador”, both its top and its face, which has an interesting and significant textural transition.

When ready to depart, Curiosity will head about 15 m to the south. Due to some significant rocks and the steep climb ahead of us, this is just as far as Rover planners can see. Even at this distance, the rover will need to turn around to get around some more significant rocks, so we don’t add damage to the wheels. The drive should leave us parked where we can have a better view of the road ahead, as well as leaving the foundation inside the rover’s working area for the next shot.

After the trip, Curiosity will do some nocturnal environmental observations, Navcam suprahorizon and zenith films to observe the atmosphere. Overnight, the SAM instrument will perform an engineering maintenance activity to verify the tunable laser spectrometer (TLS) optics.

On the second day of the plan, after the drive, Curiosity will do some undirected science using AEGIS autonomous target selection and observation and a long dust devil film by Navcam.


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NASA’s Curiosity Rover Arrives in Roraima

Fuzzy Skunk