MISSION UPDATES | October 3, 2020

Sols 2901-2903: Warts and All!

Written by Lucy Thompson, Planetary Geologist at University of New Brunswick
Surface of Mars, Mount Sharp in distance

Front Hazcam image showing the current workspace with the two Mary Anning drill holes on the bedrock slab (just left of centre), and Mount Sharp in the distance. The rover arm is extended out in the top left of the image, with the APXS sensor head pointing to the right. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

The first order of business for this three-sol plan is to continue with arm diagnostic activities that could give Curiosity the all clear to bump to the next drill target at this location in the coming week. This still leaves plenty of time, power and data volume to plan a number of science activities. These include continued characterization of the composition of the rock and soil at this location, with ChemCam LIBS on “Skaw Beach” (soil target), “Wart” (resistant features in the bedrock) and “Balallan” (bedrock), accompanied by Mastcam documentation imaging. ChemCam will also capture some more RMI frames to add to the ongoing mosaic of the distant “Housedon Hill” area on Mount Sharp. The RMI mosaic will help the geologists on the team discern structures and textures within the rocks exposed in this area of Mount Sharp, which in turn might help us better understand their geological history.

As well as studying the ancient processes that formed the rocks in Gale crater, Curiosity also monitors the current environment. Such activities in this plan include Mastcam imaging of the nearby “Upper Ollach” sand and pebble target as part of an ongoing change detection campaign to monitor movement of loose material by the wind. Mastcam will also image the crater rim, and along with Navcam, the sky, to monitor dust and opacity of the atmosphere. A Navcam movie will also be acquired to record any dust devil activity.

Finally, there is a CheMin empty cell and clean up activity on the last sol, in preparation for our next drill campaign. Standard REMS, RAD and DAN passive and active measurements are also planned.