14 February 2016
The dune sand samples were dumped onto the ground, but it appears that the sample was partly blown by the wind. There is enough sample left to investigate with various instruments, so the Sol 1253 plan starts with ChemCam passive spectra and Mastcam multispectral observations of the dump piles and brushed spot. Later that sol, MAHLI will take pictures of the APXS calibration target and both dump piles before the APXS is placed on the pile of sieved sand for a short integration. After sunset, the APXS will be moved to a bedrock target named “Bergsig” for another short integration, then to the pile of unsieved sand for a long, overnight integration.
The rover will wake up before dawn on Sol 1254 for an attempt to detect surface frost using ChemCam. This is the best time of year for water frost to form, so we’re hoping that ChemCam will see the hydrogen in the water. Later that sol, ChemCam and Mastcam will observe the unsieved dump pile and the brushed spot, this time using ChemCam‘s laser to measure chemical composition. Mastcam will also image the frost target, the sun, and the distant crater rim to measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere. Then MAHLI will image Bersig, the sieved dump pile to look for the imprint of APXS‘s contact sensor, and the brushed spot. Overnight, CheMin will analyze the dune sand again, to improve the accuracy of the mineralogical measurement.
Finally, on Sol 1255, the rover will drive toward the north, to get around the sand dune to the west of the vehicle. In addition to the usual post-drive imaging, the Navcam will take a couple images of Mount Sharp to enable planning of future long-distance imaging. Another full plan that has kept the tactical team busy today!
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.