Sol 382 Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Onward to the Mountain4 September 2013
Autonomous navigation continues to work well, allowing longer drives into areas not visible from the previous rover location. Today the view ahead is good enough that we are planning to drive over 100 meters, with the last ~45 meters using AutoNav. But driving this far leaves very little time for targeted science observations, only a few minutes today. We knew that we would have to consider this trade off between observations and drive distance once AutoNav was verified on the B computer, but the decision is still painful. Some scientists want to spend more time studying interesting features during the long traverse to Aeolis Mons ("Mt. Sharp"), but Gale crater was selected as the MSL landing site so that the geologic history recorded in the layers of Aeolis Mons could be investigated. The overall science goal is to get to the base of the mountain with minimal delays.