16 July 2016
It was a slow morning as we anxiously awaited our downlink at 11am this morning… and then we put together a hefty weekend plan. We’re in late slide sols this week, so planning has been starting later to wait for critical images to come down. I’m on duty as GSTL today, and we knew it would be a big plan going in to the weekend. Once we confirmed that the ~26 m drive went well on Sol 1401, our first task was to evaluate the local bedrock and select a target for contact science. We selected a target named “Uku” for ChemCam, Mastcam, MAHLI and APXS activities to assess the texture and composition of the Murray formation. We also planned a ChemCam observation on the target “Songo,” a disturbed block which looks more red than some of the surrounding rocks. The plan also includes some Mastcam mosaics of the “Bimbe” blocky deposit to see if we want to pursue some additional observations there next week. Then we had to see if these activities would fit with an already full weekend plan. On the first and third sols we’re planning to do some environmental monitoring observations coordinated with observations from the MAVEN spacecraft. This will give us a great dataset from the ground looking up, and from orbit looking down. As if the plan wasn’t busy enough, we’re also planning some MAHLI imaging of the CheMin inlet, and a SAM geochronology experiment. Not surprisingly, this is a very power-hungry plan, so we had to trim down some activities during the SOWG meeting. But we managed to get almost everything into the plan, and have set ourselves up for the possibility of more contact science on Monday. Should be a fun weekend in Gale crater!
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.