4 April 2017
Today’s three-sol plan starts with MAHLI imaging of the first scoop location (OG1). The first sol also includes Mastcam and MARDI imaging for change detection. The second sol involves a number of remote sensing activities, starting with a long morning imaging suite for environmental monitoring observations. The imaging suites are special observations that include Navcam cloud movies and dust opacity measurements from both Navcam and Mastcam at an early morning time, when the rover is usually asleep and recharging. The sol 1655 imaging suite is a long version which also includes a ChemCam passive sky measurement, which seeks to determine the chemical composition of the air near MSL. All of these measurements are duplicated in the afternoon to check for diurnal variability. Later in the afternoon we’ll also take a large Mastcam mosaic of “Vera Rubin Ridge,” for both stereo and multispectral analysis of the prominent ridge at the base of Mt. Sharp. We’ll also acquire a multispectral Mastcam image of the area observed by the Ground Temperature Sensor (GTS) to help with thermal modeling and grain size determination. The plan includes the usual REMS and DAN measurements, and additional REMS observations were added to determine if the REMS GTS is affected by an increase in winds in the afternoon. The second sol also includes more Mastcam change detection observations, and a large Navcam 15-frame dust devil movie to attempt to capture movement in individual dust devils and to estimate the amount of dust lifted by a range of vortex sizes. On the third sol, ChemCam will perform some calibration activities and analyze targets “Kamankeag” and “Hamlin Peak” to assess the composition of Murray bedrock and a small ripple. I’ll be on duty next week, so I’m getting caught up and looking forward to more dune campaign activities.
By Lauren Edgar and Michael Battalio
–Lauren is a Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the MSL science team. Michael is a Ph.D. candidate in atmospheric science at Texas A&M, and today’s ENV Science Theme Lead.
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.