5 April 2018
After failing to pass SRAP (the process that makes sure the rover is safe to use its arm) on the previous sol (see Sol 2011 for details), we finished up the set of observations possible at this location. Since Curiosity didn’t move from its parking spot on Sol 2011, that also means there were no opportunities to conduct contact science in today’s plan.
While somewhat disappointing to the science team members on shift, Curiosity’s health is everyone’s priority. We always maximize every minute on Mars, so we planned to complete some needed activities before driving away. These activities included long-distance imaging using the ChemCam instrument to look clear across the crater to the far rim. This long-distance imaging needed to happen before there’s too much dust in the atmosphere to obtain clear pictures. Some additional imaging and ChemCam observations of nearby targets were planned before Curiosity left, headed for a new location ~40 meters away. It’s likely that the goals planned at the Sol 2011 location to characterize the differences between two geologic units in the Vera Rubin Ridge will carry over to the next location, as the same exposures appear to be present just down the way.
Written by Christopher Edwards, Planetary Geologist at Northern Arizona University