27 May 2015

Sol 998: Contact Science at Marias Pass

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Mastcam image of Ronan Sol 995

By Lauren Edgar

A short bump on Sol 997 put Curiosity in a great position to investigate a few different rock units in Marias Pass, using the instruments on the rover’s arm.  The 2.5 m drive brings our total odometry to 10,599 m.  With the upcoming solar conjunction (Mars will be on the opposite side of the sun from the Earth, so we can’t communicate with the rover for most of the month of June), Curiosity is now parked for the next few weeks.   But we are parked in front of a beautiful outcrop that shows the contact between the underlying Pahrump unit and the overlying Stimson unit.

The goal of today’s plan is to characterize the Stimson unit.  First, Curiosity will acquire ChemCam and Mastcam on part of the Stimson unit called “Ronan” (the large block in the top part of this Mastcam image) as well as a coarse-grained block named “Big_Arm.”  Then we’ll acquire several MAHLI images on “Ronan.”  Next, Curiosity will brush “Ronan” to remove the dust, and will then take MAHLI images of the brushed area to get a better look at the grain size and textures.  And finally, we’ll place APXS on the target to investigate the bulk chemistry of “Ronan.”  Tomorrow’s plan will likely include similar observations on the Pahrump unit.

–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.