MISSION UPDATES | November 25, 2019

Sols 2597-2599: A Bounty of Targets

Written by Michelle Minitti, Planetary Geologist at Framework
Sols 2597-2599: A Bounty of Targets

We arrived at our parking spot for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, and Mars gave us plenty to be grateful for in and around the workspace. Each bedrock slab in the workspace seems to have something different to offer, "Western Butte" looms just 25 meters off to rover left, and dark sand ripples lap up against the small rise we are perched on. It is an ideal spot at which to spend some quality time. We start off the plan by acquiring the first of part of a 360° panorama that we will accumulate in four parts over the Thanksgiving holiday. Normally, we collect our 360° mosaics with the wider field of view Mastcam left eye. This time, we will capture the 360° mosaic using the left eye and the narrower field of view Mastcam right eye. This will result in a ripe-for-zooming-in stereo mosaic that includes our recent focus of exploration, “Central Butte,” and the clay-bearing unit, "Vera Rubin Ridge," the "Greenheugh pediment," the distant Gale crater rim, and (looming above all) Mount Sharp.

Through the rest of this three sol plan, our focus falls slightly closer to the rover than the surrounding vista. We will brush the target “Everbay,” which has a polygonal fracture pattern, with the DRT and follow up with MAHLI imaging and an APXS analysis. MAHLI will also image the targets “Carlops” and “Inverurie,” bedrock targets with different textures than Everbay, to help plan more detailed investigation of these targets with MAHLI and APXS in the next plan. ChemCam will shoot Everbay, Inverurie, “Latheron” (yet another variety of bedrock texture!), and “Fidra,” whose vertical face (visible in the upper left corner of the above image) gives us a perfect cross section to look at. Rounding out the plan on Sol 2599, SAM will run a test of its tunable laser spectrometer.

The environment around and above the rocks gets attention in this plan, as well. We acquire regular REMS, RAD and DAN measurements, and images and movies of clouds and dust devils.