MISSION UPDATES | November 7, 2019

Sols 2579 - 2580: Touch and Go? No!

Written by Lucy Thompson, Planetary Geologist at University of New Brunswick
Front Hazcam image of the view out the front window with our current workspace in the foreground.

Front Hazcam image of the view out the front window with our current workspace in the foreground, and the top of the Central Butte in the background. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Our nominal plan was for a Touch and Go, which normally results in us first using the arm to place APXS and MAHLI on a target to assess the chemistry and texture, followed by typical remote science (imaging and ChemCam chemistry) before driving away. The previous drive brought us to an interesting workspace at the base of an area we are calling the “Central Butte.” We are examining the relationship between different layers of rocks within the butte and how they compare to the other rocks we have encountered within the Glen Torridon area. Early during planning, we first assessed where we would like to drive for our weekend plan. We were hoping to drive a little higher up the butte in order to continue investigating the current layer we are in, as well as to be able to access the overlying rock layers. However, after a careful assessment of the potential drive by the rover planners, we decided to pull the drive from the plan. Hence it turned into a Touch and Stay plan! There are plenty of areas of interest to keep us busy this weekend though.

We decided to switch the order of our remote science and contact science, such that ChemCam will analyze a rock target, “Gleneagles,” prior to investigation by MAHLI and APXS of the same target later in the plan. The ChemCam LIBS typically blasts away the surface dust, and analyzes the composition of the rock. This dust clearing will allow us to have a less dusty surface to analyze with MAHLI and APXS. Two Mastcam mosaics will capture the Gleneagles target and surrounding area, as well as another area “Kinraddie,” to document sedimentary structures and textures, which might help us infer a depositional setting for these rocks. We will also acquire a Mastcam 360° mosaic of this area.

On the second sol of this two-sol plan, ChemCam will use AEGIS to investigate the composition of another target in the workspace. We will acquire Mastcam crater extinction and full tau imaging pointed towards the sun, and Navcam imaging to look for dust and aerosols in the atmosphere, as well as dust devils. Standard REMS, DAN and RAD activities are also planned.

We are looking forward to a busy weekend on Mars, taking more compositional, structural and textural measurements at this stunning outcrop.