27 May 2015

Sol 997: Preparing for contact science

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Sol 995 Pahrump Stimson contact

By Lauren Edgar

Curiosity spent the weekend characterizing the terrain and bedrock exposed in Marias Pass.  Curiosity drove 33 m further into Marias Pass, bringing our total odometry to 10,596 m.   The drive set us up perfectly to investigate the contact between two different types of bedrock – the underlying Pahrump unit and the overlying Stimson unit.

Today’s plan is focused on characterizing the contact in this new location, and then bumping even closer to the outcrop to prepare for contact science later this week.  Now that ChemCam is back in action with its autonomous focusing capability, the plan includes two ChemCam rasters on the targets “Mission” and “Missoula” to assess the chemistry on either side of the contact.  The plan also includes some Mastcam mosaics to document the sedimentary structures, and a Navcam observation to search for dust devils.  Then Curiosity will bump closer to the outcrop, and will acquire images for future targeting.  Overnight, Curiosity will acquire Mastcam images of Phobos to study aerosols in the atmosphere of Mars.

–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.