Astrogeology Science Center

Sol 692 Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Bizarre Environment

18 July 2014

Another good day at the International Mars Conference, with back-to-back talks by USGS Astrogeologists: First, Colin Dundas showed evidence in Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE images for the ongoing formation of gullies, involving seasonal carbon dioxide frost (dry ice) but not necessarily water. Then Hugh Kieffer gave a very unconventional talk about the uniquely Martian geysers in the south polar seasonal cap, taking the audience along with him on an imaginary visit to this bizarre environment. His use of props (including breaking a pencil and other sound effects) engaged the audience and earned him the longest applause of the entire conference. There were many other excellent presentations (including another 100 posters), but I'm especially proud of my USGS colleagues. We are learning so much about Mars, but of course many unanswered questions remain.

Meanwhile, MSL's Sol 691 drive was successful (almost 24 meters), and the Sol 692 plan included ChemCam and Mastcam observations of the target Pyramid Hills before another drive.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.