MISSION UPDATES | March 15, 2023

Sols 3771-3772: Toodle-oo Tapo Caparo

Written by Catherine O'Connell-Cooper, Planetary Geologist at University of New Brunswick
MAHLI context image of Tucupita, sol 3769, taken from an approximately 25 cm standoff.

MAHLI context image of Tucupita, sol 3769, taken from an approximately 25 cm standoff. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS. Download image ›

Today, we finally leave Tapo Caparo and begin something new. But... actually, we are not going very far. Whilst sitting at Tapo Caparo, we spent some time looking around at the neighbourhood using Mastcam and ChemCam imaging. Not too far away, we spotted a workspace that includes two types of bedrock - a finely laminated bedrock (which is what we just drilled) and some bedrock with abundant nodules but apparently no laminations. This might mark a transition from one unit to another, so today we planned a drive over to that area in order to get this workspace into our weekend plan.

Today's plan is therefore a Touch and Go plan, doing the very last contact science on our wish list and then moving on. APXS will analyse a float rock ("Tucupita") which was previously analyzed by ChemCam, who will use LIBS to look at another float ("Uaimiti") for comparison. As the MAHLI team acquired images of Tucupita (shown above) in Monday's plan to facilitate APXS placement today, they are able to fit it in a MAHLI-only target, looking at another float stone ("Tamanaco") which is slightly closer to the rover.

As we have been here for several sols, we have already imaged the buttes around us with Mastcam and the ChemCam long distance imager (RMI), but once we leave, obviously the view will change. So, before we leave, we will get one final set of images from this viewpoint of the "Chenapau" butte (Mastcam) and a large channel feature further afield (RMI). As ever, the ENV theme group continues their monitoring of environmental conditions in Gale. Navcam will complete a dust devil (wind vortice) survey, and Mastcam will look at dust in the atmosphere (tau measurement).

It will be good to be back on the road, even if we are just heading further along the Marker Band. The Marker Band (including this drill site) has been the site of lots of exciting science, some of which was presented this week at a special session at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference ("LPSC") in Texas, marking our ten years of active roving in Gale. However, there is so much amazing data and images to work on from the Marker Band, we will be talking about for many years to come!