7 January 2016

Sol 1217: Where to sample?

Posted by Ryan

Sol 1216 Navcam Namib dune sampling

On Sol 1216 Curiosity drove 43 m toward the Namib Dune sampling location.  That meant that today we had to decide on our final sampling spot, and there were many different factors to consider.  I was the GSTL today, and it was a busy morning trying to figure out our top science priorities.  We eventually settled on a location that met all of our science objectives: a sharp-crested ripple that would provide access to sample both coarse and fine-grained material, that was relatively dust free (implying more activity), and would allow a favorable rover orientation.  Now we just have to hope that the drive and wheel scuff go smoothly!

The plan today involved a pre-bump Mastcam mosaic for context, and some deck imaging to monitor fines.  Then Curiosity will drive toward the sampling location, and will turn the right front wheel to create a scuff in the sand.  After the drive we’ll take more imaging to prepare for targeting in the weekend plan.  In the afternoon, we’ll also use Mastcam for a change-detection observation of a nearby ripple.  I’ll be on duty again tomorrow, so I’m excited to see how the plan works out!

By Lauren Edgar

–Lauren is a Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of MSL science team.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.