Physical properties of terrains encountered by the Curiosity rover during the rst 360 sols of operations have been inferred from analysis of the scour zones produced by Sky Crane Landing System engine plumes, wheel touch down dynamics, pits produced by Chemical Camera (ChemCam) laser shots, rover wheel traverses over rocks, the extent of sinkage into soils, and the magnitude and sign of rover-based slippage during drives. Results have been integrated with morphologic, mineralogic, and thermophysical properties derived from orbital data, and Curiosity-based measurements, to understand the nature and origin of physical properties of traversed terrains. The hummocky plains (HP) landing site and traverse locations consist ofmoderately to well-consolidated bedrock of alluvial origin variably covered by slightly cohesive, hard-packedbasaltic sand and dust, with both embedded and surface-strewn rock clasts. Rock clasts have been addedthrough local bedrock weathering and impact ejecta emplacement and form a pavement-like surface in whichonly small clasts (5 to 10 cm wide) have been pressed into the soil during wheel passages. The beddedfractured (BF) unit, site of Curiositys rst drilling activity, exposes several alluvial-lacustrine bedrock unitswith little to no soil cover and varying degrees of lithication. Small wheel sinkage values (1 cm) for both HPand BF surfaces demonstrate that compaction resistance countering driven-wheel thrust has been minimaland that rover slippage while traversing across horizontal surfaces or going uphill, and skid going downhill,have been dominated by terrain tilts and wheel-surface material shear modulus values.
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets (ISSN 2169-9097) (e-ISSN 2169-9100); 119; 6; 1322-1344