30 March 2018

Sols 2008-2010: Exploring variations in composition, texture, and color

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Yesterday Curiosity drove 35 m to the southeast, which set us up for some great contact science on the rim of a small impact crater. We’re working our way toward Region 13 on Vera Rubin Ridge and exploring changes in bedrock composition, texture, and color, as shown in the Navcam and MAHLI images.

I was the SOWG Chair today, and we developed a 3-sol plan with a lot of great science for the weekend. The first sol kicks off with ChemCam observations of ‘Beinn Dearg Mhor,’ ‘Dun Caan,’ and ‘Dalbeattie’ to look for changes in chemistry within the red bedrock in our workspace. Sometimes I’m convinced that the geology theme group intentionally picks names that are hard for me to pronounce during the SOWG meeting! Then we’ll acquire Mastcam documentation of those targets as well as a mosaic to characterize a sandy trough on the floor of the small crater at ‘Saxa Vord.’ In the afternoon, we planned contact science (including DRT, MAHLI, and APXS) on the targets ‘Lanark’ and ‘Dun Caan’ and some overnight APXS integrations. These observations will help to compare orbital observations to surface characteristics, particularly as we move through an area with a high hematite signature in orbital spectroscopic data. On the second sol Curiosity will acquire Mastcam multispectral observations of the DRT target ‘Lanark,’ and the stratigraphy exposed in the wall of the small crater at the target ‘Stac Fada.’ After completing science activities at this location, Curiosity will drive to the southeast to investigate variations in color and sedimentary structures. On the third sol, we planned an early science block for environmental monitoring activities. Later in the afternoon Curiosity will acquire a long distance RMI to characterize the yardangs and stratigraphy exposed higher on the slope of Mt Sharp. We’ll also acquire several additional Navcam and Mastcam images to monitor atmospheric opacity, clouds, and scattering properties. It’s going to be a busy weekend on Mars!

Written by Lauren Edgar, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center