21 November 2017
This week we put together two extra-large helpings of science to get us through the Thanksgiving holiday. The first plan covers sols 1882 through 1886 and much like my plan for after Thanksgiving dinner, will mostly involve sitting in one place and not moving. Instead of a turkey, Curiosity will be cooking a sample of ‘Ogunquit Beach’ in the SAM EGA oven.
Before that happens, we’ll use MARDI to look at the ground under the rover to see if anything has moved while we have been sitting at this location. Then, pre-dawn on sol 1883 ChemCam will analyze the rock target ‘Lebombo’ and the soil ‘Oaktree’ to look for evidence of frost. Then, on sol 1885 we have a whole bunch of side dishes in the form of remote sensing. Mastcam will collect multispectral observations of the target ‘Hexriver’ and ChemCam will analyze the targets ‘Klipfonteinheuwel’ and ‘Klippan.’ I also advocated for ChemCam to use the RMI to take a closer look at an interesting geologic contact on Mt. Sharp. Mastcam will document all of the ChemCam observations, as well as the ChemCam auto-targeted observation from sol 1878. Mastcam will repeat its clast survey observation from a few days ago to check for any changes, and then APXS will analyze Klippan and Klipfonteinheuwel overnight. Before dawn on sol 1886 ChemCam will once again analyze Lebombo and Oaktree to look for frost and Navcam and Mastcam will take advantage of the early start to make some atmospheric observations.
The second plan for the long weekend covers sols 1886 through 1888. Mastcam will take pictures of the two frost campaign targets, as well as another atmospheric observation. Then ChemCam and Mastcam will take another look at the AEGIS target from sol 1878. This target was given the name ‘Reivilo’ by two of our French colleagues who were on operations today, both named Olivier, who really like the name for some reason. After that, MAHLI will take a closer look at Klipfonteinheuwel and Klippan and APXS will do an overnight calibration measurement.
On sol 1887 Curiosity will finally move on from this spot where we have been camped for a while, collecting some post-drive images to help with targeting next week. Finally, we have an untargeted science block. ChemCam will use AEGIS to automatically pick another target, and we will attempt another one of my observations of Mt. Sharp with the RMI, this time to check for changes on a distant mesa that I have been monitoring. We will wrap up our long weekend with Navcam observations to check for clouds and dust devils, and Mastcam observations to measure the dust in the atmosphere.
We on the Curiosity team are thankful every day that we get to be a part of the exploration of Mars, and next week we’ll pick up where we left off as we continue our campaign to explore Vera Rubin Ridge!
Written by Ryan Anderson, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center