MISSION UPDATES | September 23, 2020

Sols 2892-2893: Images Are a Geologist's Best Friend!

Written by Susanne Schwenzer, Planetary Geologist at The Open University
A close-up view of Curiosity's instruments

This image was taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm, on Sept. 22, 2020. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS. Download image ›

As we continue to finish our drilling activities – among other things by taking a look at the instrument inlets on top of the rover deck to make sure no sample is remaining on the mesh or elsewhere where we can see – we are already on the look out for the nearby target "Ayton." We want to drill there too, to follow up the chemical changes we have observed in the area. Maybe Mars is going to tell us something really interesting here? All those nodules must mean something, but just exactly what we cannot tell without full mineralogy. Geologists love images, but occasionally mineralogy is the other friend we want to see, too! One of the questions is in what ways the nodules are similar or different from nodules we have seen previously. And with "Mary Anning" drill holes so close by, we can also compare the two, which will further enhance our science opportunities. As a geochemist and modeler, I am certainly very excited and have sharpened the (digital) pencil to get going on my modelling as soon as I can!

In today’s plan, however, we do play with geologist’s best friend a lot: first, we wrap up some of the mosaic-observations we have started (and taken advantage of the fact that we stay in one place for a while during a drill campaign). Mastcam is adding two sets of stereo images to the tally at this location to further investigate the morphology of the workspace and to fill a gap at an interesting spot for a full analysis of the structures in the workspace. In addition, we continue our change detection observations at "Upper Ollach."

ChemCam is also used for imaging, doing a Remote Micro Imager long distance observation to extend the mosaic my fellow blogger Rachel has talked about.

APXS is looking forward and investigating a target near the new drill site at Ayton. The target’s name is "Underhoul" and APXS is accompanied by MAHLI investigations. ENV is still monitoring the atmosphere closely, with observations of the dust and opacity. Lots of images, happy dance from all geologists!