31 January 2016

Sol 1239-1240: Analyzing the Sands of Mars

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Since the anomaly with CHIMRA is still being investigated, there was no science involving the arm in today’s plan. Still, there was plenty to do, and we had to be careful not to collect too much extra data because there is a backlog of data on the rover waiting to be downlinked to Earth.

On Sol 1239 we planned a bunch of observations of a target called “Gosser Schroffenstein” in the area called “Mniszechis Vlei” (I am really enjoying the names list lately) where the rover’s wheel scuff in the sand exposed a tiny scarp or cliff in the sand. This little scarp gives us a good view of the fine-scaled layering in the top few centimeters of the dune. ChemCam will take an RMI mosaic of Gosser Schroffenstein, followed by an active LIBS analysis targeting the face of the scarp. After that, the RMI mosaic will be repeated to see if the laser pulses caused any changes in the delicate sand scarp. Once ChemCam is done, Mastcam will take a 5 image stereo mosaic of the whole Mniszechis Vlei area. Mastcam also has another change detection observation of the target “Hebron” and Navcam has an atmospheric observation. Once the science is done on Sol 1239, we will do some more diagnostics on the CHIMRA. Later in the day on Sol 1239, CheMin will analyze some of the sand that was collected previously.

On Sol 1240 ChemCam has a few passive (no laser) observations of the Mastcam and ChemCam calibration targets. These are followed by a couple of long-distance RMI mosaics of Mt. Sharp. These are observations that I have been advocating for recently, so it was nice to be able to fit them in the plan today while I was on duty as the ChemCam science PUL. Mastcam will take color images to help document the long distance RMI mosaics, and will repeat the change detection observations of Hebron a couple more times.

by Ryan Anderson

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.