MISSION UPDATES | November 22, 2019

Sols 2594-2596: Heading West and Settling in for Thanksgiving

Written by Catherine O'Connell-Cooper, Planetary Geologist at University of New Brunswick
Mid-drive image showing the sand patch “Stemster” behind the rubbly workspace that we ended up in for today’s plan.

Mid-drive image showing the sand patch “Stemster” behind the rubbly workspace that we ended up in for today’s plan. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

We are putting Central Butte behind us now, as we journey onwards to Western Butte, a nearby hill that appears to be similar to Central Butte. At Central Butte, we were spoiled for choice, with lots of rocky outcrops to investigate. Yesterday’s drive brought us to the type of workspace we have seen previously in Glen Torridon – lots and lots of small pebbles and sand.

We did still manage to find things to analyze. APXS will integrate on an area called “Flow Country” over the weekend, split into three distinct sections - sand, very small pebbles and a single larger pebble. This will allow us to compare the compositions, and to see how they relate to pebbly material encountered further back in Glen Torridon. MAHLI will complete the contact science on Flow Country, imaging all three parts of the target. ChemCam is investigating some larger fragments of rock “Nutberry Moss” and “Otterswick,” as well as two potential meteorite targets “Pladda Isle” and “Swona.”

As always, our plan is full of Mastcam imagery. In addition to documenting the ChemCam targets, Mastcam is imaging two sand patches “Stemster” (seen in the image above) and “Stonywynd,” and looking back towards Central Butte before we drive on sol 2595.

The Environmental theme group (ENV) planned a series of Mastcam and ECAM movies to look at environmental conditions, such as dust devils, clouds and dust overhead in the sky above the rover and towards the walls of Gale crater. REMS and DAN will continue their ongoing environmental monitoring.

Once the drive completes, we will stay in place until after the Thanksgiving holiday. Mastcam will image our new workspace and surrounding area so that we can do lots of contact science and a very special imaging project over the holiday period.