15 November 2017

Sol 1877 – 1878: The Last Drive Before Thanksgiving

Posted by Ryan Anderson

The star of tosol‘s plan was a drive that will likely be our last drive before the Thanksgiving holiday. The science team has a lot of activities we’d like to do that require Curiosity to stay in a single location for several days, so the Earth days that the ops team has off for Thanksgiving will be a perfect time for the rover to get some really good science done without needing input from the ground. As the surface properties scientist (SPS) on shift today, I worked closely with the rover planners to pick a drive target that had the highest likelihood of leaving the rover in a good, stable position while still giving us an exciting workspace for future contact science. In the end, we decided to try to head for an area where we see two different colors of rocks – the typical tan rocks that have been present throughout our time on the ridge as well as some grayer rocks that appear to be unique to the upper part of the ridge. Although it’s hard to tell for certain from afar, I’m hopeful this area will be a great place for Curiosity to sit and do science while we humans on the ground enjoy our turkey dinners!

The sol 1877 plan starts off with a science block that includes a Mastcam multispectral observation of a target further up Mt. Sharp called ‘Table Mountain.’ We also have ChemCam LIBS observations of two targets, ‘Brenton’ and ‘Gamtoos,’ along with the standard Mastcam documentation imaging. We’ll then drive to the aforementioned spot, and finish with some post driving imaging.

Sol 1878 will be a busy sol as well, with a morning remote sensing block that contains a ChemCam AEGIS automatic observation, an RMI mosaic of more distant layers on Mt. Sharp, and some Navcam environmental science activities including a dust devil search, suprahorizon movie, and zenith movie. The day ends with a nice afternoon science block that has an atmospheric dust (tau) measurement and a crater rim extinction movie.

Written by Abigail Fraeman, Planetary Geologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory