14 November 2016

Sols 1516-1520: Playing in the Sand

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Sol 1518 Navcam image of the arm extended to analyze dark sand

We’re continuing to make steady progress, with successful drives interspersed with plenty of good science. In the Sol 1516 plan, we started off with a Mastcam mosaic of “West Mesa” to study the stratigraphy, followed by a big 5×5 point ChemCam analysis on the nodular target “Ship Island” which brings ChemCam to more than 400,000 laser shots! ChemCam also analyzed the target “Stave Island” and Mastcam documented both targets as well as the auto-targeted location from Sol 1514. Mastcam rounded out the science block with a small mosaic of some interesting dark rocks. After that, Curiosity drove, and ChemCam did another auto-targeted observation. Sol 1517 was pretty simple, with a Mastcam image of the rover deck, Navcam atmospheric monitoring, and a twilight MARDI image.

The Sol 1516 drive brought us to a sandy location, so the Sol 1518 plan takes advantage of that location to study the sand. The plan starts out with Mastcam observations to monitor the amount of dust in the atmosphere, followed by ChemCam observations of “Folly Island,” “Burnt Porcupine,” “Hadley Point,” and “Old Whale Ledge.” Mastcam will document all of those targets, plus the AEGIS target from Sol 1516. Mastcam also has an observation to extend the mosaic of the workspace. With the remote sensing done, MAHLI will image “Folly Island” and the sandy targets “Sheep Porcupine” and “Bald Porcupine.” APXS will also measure Sheep Porcupine and Bald Porcupine. Late in the day, Mastcam will repeat the observations of atmospheric dust.

On Sol 1519, we have a short drive with the usual post-drive imaging, and ChemCam will do another automated observation. Sol 1520 is an untargeted Sol, so we are focusing on imaging distant targets. Mastcam has a mosaic of the upcoming “Hematite Ridge,” ChemCam has a long-distance RMI of Mt. Sharp, and NavCam will look to the northern horizon to measure the dust in the atmosphere.

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