8 October 2017
After a successful plan was carried out on the previous sols, in the decisional downlink we received limited imaging data with which to work today. Due to this not-yet received data, we developed our plan with the local workspace in mind and pushed some observations into the next plan. In the workspace, we planned for two ChemCam observations and associated Mastcam documentation images designed to continue the characterization of the chemical makeup of the ‘Vera Rubin Ridge’ and the context of the hematite. Due to limited power for today’s plan (thanks to some power-hungry SAM observations), that’s just about all that made it in from a remote sensing perspective.
However, we did get a couple of MAHLI and APXS targets into the plan on the ‘Cheshire’ and ‘Duitschland’ targets to further augment the chemistry derived from the remote ChemCam observations. All of these observations are helping us to build up a detailed sedimentological and chemical stratigraphy for the Vera Rubin Ridge.
In this plan, SAM was the star of the show, though this activity didn’t have anything to do with the Vera Rubin Ridge campaign. In this plan, Curiosity completed the sample drop-offs of the ‘Ogunquit Beach’ sample back from the Bagnold Dunes campaign. As a part of this measurement suite, SAM will conduct an Evolved Gas Analysis (EGA) where the sample will be heated and some of the sample minerals will decompose or release their trapped water. This measurement allows us to effectively characterize the volatiles (e.g., SO2, CO2 and H2O) contained in the samples with the Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GCMS). In the next plan, Curiosity will be at the same spot since the SAM measurements took so much power this weekend they prohibited a drive. In that plan, we’ll be able to recapture some of the activities that were excluded from today’s plan due to the limited imaging data that was downlinked. While Curiosity carries out these science measurements over the weekend, it’ll have a pretty spectacular view (see above) as its parked right next to the edge of the Vera Rubin Ridge.
As it turns out, there’s still plenty to do on Mars.
Written by Christopher Edwards, Planetary Geologist at Northern Arizona University