22 August 2017
Curiosity is now tantalizingly close to climbing up Vera Rubin Ridge. For the past several weeks we have been skirting around the ridge, documenting sedimentary structures and bedrock composition along the way as we work toward our intended ascent route. Today’s plan provided another opportunity for touch-and-go contact science, followed by a ~31 m drive. I’ll be on duty later this week to help with planning the Vera Rubin Ridge campaign and acting as SOWG chair, so it was helpful to dial in to planning to prepare for my upcoming shifts.
The plan starts with MAHLI and APXS observations of the target ‘Agamenticus’ to characterize a typical block of bedrock. ChemCam and Mastcam will also document the target, and then we’ll acquire a long distance ChemCam RMI mosaic of a contact between bright and dark rocks in part of the ridge. We’ll also take a Mastcam super-resolution mosaic to test its ability to bring out more detail. Mastcam will also acquire images of ‘Medrick Rock’ and ‘Bibb Rock’ to assess stratification and color variations. Then Curiosity will drive, and acquire post-drive imaging. The real challenge today was the limited downlink available, so the team had to think carefully about the priorities of post-drive imaging in order to prepare for tomorrow’s plan. In the afternoon Curiosity will also acquire a ChemCam AEGIS target, a Mastcam tau, and a Navcam zenith movie. I’m looking forward to my upcoming shifts and the last imaging stop before we start making our way up the ridge!
Written by Lauren Edgar, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center