MISSION UPDATES | November 4, 2020

Sols 2933-2934: Rubble, Rubble, Toil and Trouble?

Written by Lucy Thompson, Planetary Geologist at University of New Brunswick
The APXS placed on the “Rachan” target on Mars

APXS on the “Rachan” target, as seen in this image taken by the Front Hazard Avoidance Camera (Front Hazcam) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 2931 rubbly workspace. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

‘Tis the Halloween season! The rubbly terrain that Curiosity is currently driving over is reminiscent of other rubbly terrain encountered within the "Glen Torridon" area and continues to be relatively easy to drive on. Curiosity drove a further 32 meters away from the "Mary Anning" and "Groken" drill site in the previous plan. As we drive back towards the planned route to the sulfate unit, the main focus is to document the textures, relationships and chemistry of the rocks we encounter.

As the APXS Payload Uplink-Downlink Lead (PUDL) today, I was responsible for checking the APXS downlink from our previous plan when we analyzed the pebble “Rachan” from the Sol 2931 rubbly workspace, and then helping to plan and uplink the APXS measurement on the rock target “Mail Beach” in our current workspace. MAHLI will also take close-up images of Mail Beach and we will be able to compare the composition and texture to Rachan and other rocks from previous rubbly terrains within "Glen Torridon." We also planned a ChemCam LIBS measurement and accompanying Mastcam documentation imaging of the “Windy Standard” rock target, which will complement the APXS and MAHLI observations.

The science team also planned three large Mastcam mosaics (including “Corbett”) to document the textures and relationships between the more resistant bedrock ledges and the lower ground in this area. Do these ledges represent a slightly different rock type that was perhaps deposited in a slightly different environment to the more typical low relief terrain? Are they more cemented and harder than surrounding rocks as a result of post-depositional processes? Might they provide clues as to what is happening as we get closer to the sulfate unit, that we are on route to?

The planned drive tosol should take us to another of the resistant ledges for interrogation by many of Curiosity’s instruments in the upcoming weekend plan. To give us a hint at the chemistry of the rocks at the end of the drive, a post-drive ChemCam AEGIS observation will be acquired. A planned post-drive MARDI image will also give us a sense of what the ground beneath our wheels looks like.

The environmental group was also busy planning observations of the atmosphere. These include a Mastcam basic tau mosaic pointed towards the sun and a Navcam line of sight observation, dust devil survey and suprahorizon movie. Standard REMS, RAD, DAN passive and active measurements were also planned. Finally, CheMin will dump the Groken drill fines, as they are done with their analysis of the sample.