MISSION UPDATES | April 24, 2019

Sols 2388-2389: Characterizing the Kilmarie and Aberlady Drill Sites

Written by Christopher Edwards, Planetary Geologist at Northern Arizona University
Sols 2388-2389: Characterizing the Kilmarie and Aberlady Drill Sites

In the plan today, the top priority was to drop off some sample from the Kilmarie drill hole to the CheMin instrument in order to begin the process of obtaining quantitative mineralogy. The CheMin instrument will help determine how the elements that make up the Kilmarie drill sample are bonded together, not just the abundances of the elements in the rocks like the ChemCam and APXS instruments can determine. Figuring out how the various elements are bonded together is particularly important for geologists as it tells us more about how the rock formed and its alteration history than the elemental chemistry alone. When coupled with the ChemCam and APXS chemistry information these datasets becomes particularly powerful.

In addition to a suite of ChemCam observations planned to help finish characterizing the workspace and the two Kilmarie and Aberlady drill holes, a large Mastcam mosaic was planned of a nearby aeolian ripple field. This large mosaic, where multiple images (in this case 120) will be taken using precise movements of the Curiosity rover's mast will take
nearly one hour to complete. Mosaics like the one in today's plan are not all that common in planning for several reasons. Not only do these large mosaics take a long time and thus require a lot of power but they also produce a lot of data that has to be downlinked to Earth. Each of these constraints must be considered carefully when planning a large mosaic. Included is one of the 120 images acquired as a part of the mosaic.