6 December 2015

Sol 1182: Studying our Tracks

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Wheel trench in dark sand

Today’s plan is focused on studying the results of yesterday’s mobility test where we drove a little ways into a sand patch and then backed out, leaving trenches where the wheels were. Yes, we’re disturbing some of the very photogenic sand ripples that we have been seeing, but it’s for a good cause: it teaches us more about how well we can drive in that sand, and by using the wheels to make trenches like this, we can get a better idea of the internal structure of the sand ripples.

In the Sol 1182 plan Mastcam has a 2×2 mosaic of a ripple cut by the trench called “Sechomib”, a multispectral observation of the left wall of the trench at a target called “Hoanib”, and a 6×3 mosaic of an outcrop called “Aminius”. ChemCam has two observations, one on Hoanib, and the other on the far wall of the trench, called “Awasib”. Mastcam will take documentation images of both of these targets after ChemCam has finished.

Once the remote sensing is done, the rest of the plan is focused on contact science on the sand, with MAHLI images of the undisturbed sand, the walls of the wheel track, and the interior of the track. Then APXS will make an overnight measurement of the track.

by Ryan Anderson

-Ryan is a planetary scientist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the ChemCam team on MSL.

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.