27 June 2017
This past weekend, Curiosity continued to journey east along the contact between the lower portion of Vera Rubin Ridge and the Murray formation with a drive that was a little over 20 m long. Today we worked on planning two sols, Sol 1739 and Sol 1740. On the first sol, we will take MAHLI and APXS observations of a target named ‘Rice Point’ in our continuing quest to characterize the variability of typical Murray bedrock as we ascend Mt. Sharp. We will also take some remote sensing observations to document changes in texture and chemistry of the rocks in front of us, as well as some nearby sand. We have ChemCam LIBS observations of targets named ‘Hamilton Pond,’ ‘Whalesback,’ and Rice Point. We will take associated Mastcam images to provide color documentation of the ChemCam targets, as well as Mastcam observations of ‘Fosters Brook’ and ‘Skillings River.’ After our morning science block will we continue on our way east towards the location where we can ascend Vera Rubin Ridge. Post drive, we will take a ChemCam AEGIS observation and a special stowed MAHLI observation looking back towards Aeolis Palus to document the landscape of we’ve traversed across. On the second sol of the plan, we will take some Navcam observations to characterize properties of the atmosphere and to search for dust devils.
All of the data from our second imaging stop back on Sol 1734 finished coming down over the weekend, and they continue to show spectacular views of vertical bedrock exposures. We are analyzing these images to understand the nature of the geologic contact between Vera Rubin Ridge and the Murray formation, as well as the environments that deposited the layers that make up the lower ridge. We have been utilizing several of Curiosity’s cameras to help with this imaging campaign. We took untargeted, post-drive Mastcam left eye images the sol before the main imaging sol to get a good context and to help us refine pointing for the Mastcam right eye images, which have higher spatial resolution but smaller fields of view. We also took pictures of select sections of the area with the ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) that have even higher spatial resolution than the Mastcam right images, but which are black and white only. The science team will use all of these data to perform our analyses.
Written by Abigail Fraeman, Planetary Geologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory