20 March 2016
St. Patrick’s Day on Mars didn’t quite go as planned. Yesterday we planned a ~15 m drive to a nearby ridge, but we came in this morning to find that the drive didn’t occur (blame it on the leprechauns?). In reality, we can blame it on a short in the RTG, which precluded the drive. This fault has occurred several times previously. Because the fault is understood, we were able to proceed with the weekend plan from our current location.
The first sol of the weekend plan is devoted to targeted remote sensing. We’ll start with some environmental monitoring observations to assess atmospheric opacity and composition. Then we’ll acquire ChemCam and Mastcam observations on the targets “Sesriem Canyon,” “Omaheke,” and “Varianto” to assess variations in composition and sedimentary structures in the local bedrock. In the afternoon, we’ll acquire a large Mastcam mosaic of Mt. Sharp, to take advantage of the low atmospheric opacity right now (which means that the conditions are great for imaging). The second sol is focused on contact science. We’ll use MAHLI and APXS to investigate two targets: “Sesrium Canyon” and ldquo;Rossing.” The first target exposes some nice bedding in the Stimson formation, and the second includes some interesting bright material for comparison. Then on the third sol, we’ll again try to drive towards the ridge to the northwest and acquire post-drive imaging for targeting. I hear the pot of gold lies just beyond…
By Lauren Edgar
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.