MISSION UPDATES | September 19, 2017

Sol 1820: What lay beneath

Written by Michelle Minitti, Planetary Geologist at Framework
Sol 1820: What lay beneath

Curiosity's weekend "Brushfest" (link to Ken's weekend blog) paid off, revealing the stunning purple color of the rocks of this part of the Vera Rubin Ridge (VRR) hiding below the veneer of dust on their surfaces. As Curiosity arrived at her new bedrock-rich workspace after a weekend drive of ~18 m, the science team had to decide whether to quickly interrogate a contact science target with MAHLI and APXS using a touch and go, or stay and find out what lay beneath the dust. There were hints around the workspace that color variations were present, with surfaces visible in shades of tan, gray and purple, so the science team decided to push the drive off a day and stay to use the Dust Removal Tool (DRT) once again on the VRR rocks in the workspace.

The science team was not only in a cleaning mood, they were in a tongue twisting mood, as evidenced by the names of the two MAHLI and APXS targets, "Passadumkeag" (a small Maine town) and "Pennessewassee" (a lake near Norway, Maine). Passadumkeag, a tan-colored target, will benefit from the DRT's revelatory powers, while Pennessewassee, a more gray-colored target, will be interrogated as is. ChemCam will shoot Passadumkeag, adding to the chemical data from that target, as well as "Uncle Zeke Island" and "Mustards Island." The Uncle Zeke Island raster will cover an area of bedrock where its color changes from bluish to purplish. Mustards Island is a unique, non-bedrock target unto itself - a gray, lumpy disc of rock resting loose in the workspace. Mastcam will also acquire multispectral data from Mustards Island to help constrain its unique appearance.

Despite the focus on rocks today, the environment of Gale still got a bit of attention, with regular REMS and RAD measurements and a 360 degree Navcam panorama looking for dust devils. If only we could get those dust devils to do a little dust removing for us on our path ahead!