MISSION UPDATES | December 18, 2017

Sols 1909-1910: Driving "home" for the holidays

Written by Lauren Edgar, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center
Sols 1909-1910: Driving "home" for the holidays

This image was taken by Mastcam: Right (MAST_RIGHT) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 1903 (2017-12-13 10:33:41 UTC).
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Today's planning session kicked off with an important decision about where to drive and how that will set us up for exciting science over the holidays. After much discussion, the team decided to return to some familiar yet intriguing rocks that we explored last week, visible in the above Navcam image. These rocks show a lot of color variations and alteration features (as seen in the above Mastcam image), and we're curious how they fit in the overall stratigraphy at Vera Rubin Ridge. The other main event in today's plan is a SAM wet chemistry experiment on the Ogunquit Beach sample. This is a very power hungry activity, so we had to keep our other remote sensing activities in check. The team planned two Mastcam mosaics to document the context of the site we're driving back to, and to investigate similar color variations in an outcrop to the southeast. After a busy night of SAM activities, Curiosity will spend the second sol driving back toward an area named "Lismore." During the drive we'll take a bunch of MARDI images to document the terrain beneath the rover, and then we'll take our typical post-drive Navcam and Mastcam mosaics to prepare for targeting on Wednesday. In the afternoon, Curiosity will acquire two Navcam movies to monitor the atmosphere and search for clouds. I'll be on duty on Wednesday, so I'm looking forward to seeing some familiar rocks and preparing for the long holiday plan!