17 March 2018

Sols 1995-1997: Under Durness

Posted by Ryan Anderson

The science team gave Curiosity a workout in this plan, using just about every watt of power available to carry out a full slate of activities. Sol 1995 starts off with a bang – three ChemCam rasters and a Mastcam 360 mosaic! ChemCam will first shoot ‘Durness,’ a flat, gray, apparently wind sculpted slab of bedrock in the workspace. Next up for ChemCam is ‘Paisley,’ a faceted cobble of bedrock cut by sulfate veins, and last is ‘Fingals Cave,’ a bright white exposure of sulfate vein.

The arm instruments get to work next. MAHLI will image Durness, which will show the ChemCam shots across the target, followed by DRT brushing of the target. APXS will analyze Durness and Paisley overnight, and then early in the morning of Sol 1996, MAHLI will return to Durness for more imaging on its now dust-cleared surface. MAHLI imaging of Paisley ends the arm work, and will capture the ChemCam raster spots and the areas cleared of dust by the ChemCam laser.

Before we drive on Sol 1996, the rover will acquire Mastcam multispectral observations of the DRT spot on Durness and across the ‘Vera Rubin Ridge’ in the direction of a particularly strong hematite signal seen from orbit that we are driving toward. After the drive, Curiosity will acquire two ChemCam observations using the AEGIS automated targeting algorithm, and spend time observing the atmosphere. Mastcam and Navcam images and movies measuring dust in the atmosphere and looking for dust devils and clouds will take place both early in the morning and in the afternoon of Sol 1997. APXS will acquire another Ar atmospheric measurement overnight on Sol 1997. Regular DAN, RAD and REMS measurements keep the rover working in those small windows where nothing else is going on!

Written by Michelle Minitti, Planetary Geologist at Framework