30 May 2017
Tosol on Mars was one of those sols where we simply did not have enough hours to get everything done that we had wanted to do. Our Tuesday drive placed us perfectly in front of a very interesting outcrop that looked slightly different in color and texture from the typical Murray rocks we’ve been seeing for the last few hundred meters. We had originally thought we would spend the morning doing contact science on this outcrop and then drive away in the afternoon, completing everything before the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter flew overhead and it would be time to call home. However, when the downlink came in this morning, the science team found there was a lot we wanted to look at that was accessible in our workspace. The rover drivers also reported that the route ahead was clear and we would be able to do a nice long drive. With all of these options but a limited amount of time available before the orbital pass, we concluded it would be best to plan to spend all of the sol doing science on the outcrop, and then wait until tomorrow to drive away.
The geology theme group certainly took advantage of the unexpected extra time for science, and filled the plan with lots of remote sensing and contact science activities. We planned to take APXS observations of two targets on gray-toned rock targets named ‘Berry Cove’ and ‘Heron Island,’ as well as MAHLI observations of both of these targets plus an additional target at the contact between a red and gray rock named ‘Prays Brook.’ We’ll complement all that with ChemCam observations of gray rock targets named ‘Spectacle Island,’ ‘McNeil Point,’ and Heron Island, plus associated Mastcam imaging to support the ChemCam observations. We’ll also be getting even more Mastcam images of interesting surrounding rock targets ‘The Whitecap,’ ‘Trap Rock,’ and ‘Pond Island,’ and a ChemCam remote micro-imager (RMI) mosaic of target ‘Sols Cliff.’ Finally, we’ll also be doing our standard background REMS and DAN passive observations to monitor the environment. Whew! It should be a great day of doing science on Mars.
Written by Abigail Fraeman, Planetary Geologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory