Astrogeology Science Center

Sol 528 Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Looking Back at Purgatory Dune

29 January 2014

In order to learn more about the sand dune in Dingo Gap, the rover will be commanded to drive up to it on Sol 528. Mobility tests on terrestrial sand dunes show that MSL can climb dunes, but we don't yet know that the feature in front of MSL is sandy throughout. Opportunity got stuck in Purgatory Dune for a few weeks, in part because it contained more fine grained dust than typical terrestrial dunes. So MSL will study the interior structure of the Martian dune before driving over it. There is also a concern that Dingo Gap is deep enough that radio communications directly to/from Earth via the high gain antenna may be affected, so post-drive images looking over the dune into the gap are planned to better assess the terrain.