MISSION UPDATES | August 11, 2020

Sol 2850: Wishing On ... Mars

Written by Lucy Thompson, Planetary Geologist at University of New Brunswick
The “Mary Anning” drill area on Mars

The “Mary Anning” drill area as seen by the left navigation camera. The “Ayton” target is towards the top left corner of the same block that the drill hole is in. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›​

As many of us look up at the night sky this evening and perhaps wish on a Perseid meteor shower shooting star, today we spent time making a wish list on Mars. We are keeping a list of observations we would like to make before we leave the “Mary Anning” drill site. Because we are trying to conserve power in order to complete all the upcoming SAM activities on the Mary Anning drilled sample, we are only able to plan ~30 minutes of science observations. It doesn’t take long to come up with 30 minutes worth of observations at this interesting location, hence our wish list!

When this plan is uplinked, Curiosity will spend the 30 minutes of science time using her Mastcam to: 1) image the drill site, to monitor movement of drill fines and sand during this windy period on Mars, and 2) extend imaging of the drill site area. The majority of other activities will be centered around preparing the Sample Acquisition, Processing and Handling (SA/SPaH) system to dump the remaining Mary Anning drilled sample in the next plan. A Navcam dust devil survey and standard background REMS, DAN and RAD activities are also included in this plan.

As the APXS strategic planner today, and with sample still in SA/SPaH, which means that we are unable to use the APXS until the drilled sample is dumped, I concentrated on our APXS wish list for this particular location. We will analyze the Mary Anning drilled sample (both the material dumped from SA/SPaH, and the powder surrounding the drilled hole) as part of our standard, upcoming drill-related activities. However, we are also hoping to squeeze in an extra observation of a close by, compositionally and texturally interesting area, previously analyzed by ChemCam (“Ayton”). I worked with the Long Term Planner and the Science Operations Chief to try and fit this observation in (we have to take into consideration power, timing, how complex the proposed activity is, etc.). We’ll have to see how many activities we get to cross off our wish list before we leave here!