24 November 2015
As many Americans are making plans for Thanksgiving, we’re making sure that Curiosity has plenty to do over the holiday weekend. On Sol 1173, Curiosity drove 45 m to the south, which put us in a great position in front of a small sandsheet and the stoss side of a large dune.
Today we’re planning 3 sols to cover part of the long weekend (we’ll plan an additional 3 sols tomorrow). I was the Geology Science Theme Lead today, and it was a real challenge to fit everything into the plan while staying within our power constraints. On the first sol, Curiosity will acquire ChemCam and Mastcam on a small patch of sand to assess its composition and morphology. Then we’ll drive further to the southwest, and take some Navcam images to prepare for future targeting. We’ll also run the first of several change detection experiments, to try to monitor sand movement in a small sandsheet. The second sol includes a number of environmental monitoring activities to assess the composition and opacity of the atmosphere using ChemCam and Mastcam. On the morning of the third sol, we’ll use Navcam to monitor the atmosphere and search for dust devils. In the afternoon of Sol 1176, we’ll perform another part of the change detection experiment to look for ripple movement, and we’ll acquire another Mastcam mosaic of the dune to our west to look for variations in ripple morphology. We’ll also perform some ChemCam calibration activities, a Mastcam mosaic of the local bedrock, a clast survey, and a Navcam atmospheric observation. Throughout the plan, REMS will be taking a number of observations, which should be very helpful to assess wind speeds as we monitor these dunes. Adding further complexity to the plan, CheMin will dump the “Greenhorn” sample and analyze an empty cell in preparation for upcoming sampling. After such a busy plan over the holiday, Curiosity will require some time to rest and recharge (sound familiar?). Safe travels Curiosity!
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.