20 December 2017
This morning we found ourselves back on familiar ground, near the targets ‘Lismore’ and ‘Leadhills’ that we imaged back on sol 1905. We drove here to take a closer look at the transition between the blue-gray and red rocks in order to understand the geologic processes that may be responsible for this color change. Since we pulled up right alongside this transition, we were able to plan a monster, 180 frame Mastcam stereo mosaic that will cover the entire area with very high-resolution color information. Downlinking all of these frames from Mars to Earth may take some time, but fortunately we’ll have some great opportunities to get big data downlinks during the upcoming holiday. I’m very much looking forward to spending the break unwrapping the data bundles and seeing what’s there!
In addition to the awesome mosaic, we will also have some environmental science observations including an atmospheric tau measurement to monitor dust in the atmosphere, a Mastcam crater rim extinction observation, and a dust devil survey. We’ll collect ChemCam, Mastcam, APXS, and MAHLI closed cover data from targets named ‘Ben Loyal’ and ‘Ben More.’ Because we’re coming up on a long holiday plan, we want to be extra careful that the MAHLI dust cover doesn’t unintentionally get left open during the long command uploading break, so we’re not opening it in today’s plan. After all this wraps up, we will drive back towards the target ‘Laphroaig’ that we imaged on sol 1905 to do additional follow-up investigations of some interesting, small scale features.
A final note, we got some terrific news from SAM this morning that their first wet chemistry experiment on Mars ran successfully! Over the last few sols, the SAM team mixed some of the sample we’ve been carrying around since our investigation at Ogunquit Beach with special chemicals called ‘derivatization agents’ that are designed to make certain molecules easier to detect. I’m looking forward to hearing the results of their experiment once they complete their analyses!
Similar area from sol 1905 Mastcam:
Written by Abigail Fraeman, Planetary Geologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory