14 September 2015

Sol 1105: Murray Formation Contact Science

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Sol 1104 Navcam

Over the weekend, Curiosity had a successful ~ 21 m drive, and we’re currently parked in front of a beautiful outcrop of the Murray formation (shown in the bottom half of the above Navcam image, overlain by Stimson).  We’ve mostly been driving through the Stimson unit for the past 280 m, so this is a great opportunity to do contact science on the Murray formation to look for any changes in composition or grain size.

I was the Geology Theme Lead today, and our plan consists of 1.5 hours of targeted remote science, followed by contact science.  We planned several ChemCam and Mastcam observations on the targets “Winnipeg,” “Alma,” and “Blackjack.”  “Winnipeg” is a target in the Murray formation that we’ll also assess with MAHLI and APXS.  “Alma” is aimed at characterizing the composition across the Murray-Stimson contact, and “Blackjack” is a resistant ledge within the Murray formation.  We’ll also acquire a couple of Mastcam mosaics to document the Murray-Stimson contact and characterize the local structure and stratification, and a Mastcam tau to assess atmospheric opacity.   In the afternoon we’ll acquire several MAHLI images of the “Sacajawea” target to investigate a resistant ledge.  Then we’ll use the DRT to brush off the dust on “Winnipeg” and take some really close MAHLI images to look for grain size variations.  Overnight, we’ll use APXS to investigate the composition of the “Winnipeg” target.

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.