Thursday, August 16, 2012

Getting a Better View of Curiosity's Surroundings

  Do the mission planners need more information to decide on a path to take them around the sand dunes and allow them to study features of interest along the way? The job could be done on the fly but I might be better to consider what could be done initially. The image below shows elevation profile along the crest and there is a high point about 315 m along a heading of 130° from the landing site. If one goes a little farther along that heading one will reach a "vista point" at 376 m from which one will get a better view of the lowlands. The Google Mars "targets of interest" contain a link to a MSL Workshop slide show presentation on a traverse of the area and points of scientific interest along the way. Curiosity could work her way to the vista point to gather topographic information of the lowlands from there while the opportunity is available then work her way north along the crest. From there she could study the lighter colored region to the east of the alluvial fan and then move west to the targets of interest on the alluvial fan and do something similar to the indicated traverse. In the process Curiosity could collect 3D panorams from different points of view.

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