11 April 2018
The top science priority for this plan for Curiosity is to acquire all of the data needed to adequately characterize the rocks at the current location before driving away. So the GEO Science Theme Group discussed the priorities of various proposed observations, including a Right Mastcam mosaic of the arm workspace and surrounding area, ChemCam LIBS targets, and a mosaic of the mid-field terrain toward the south. Fortunately, power modeling indicated that the pre-drive science block could be lengthened to 2 hours, which made it much easier to fit all of the desired observations into the plan. First, ChemCam will measure the elemental chemistry of 4 nearby rock targets, called ‘Ledmore 2,’ ‘Minginish,’ ‘Askival 3,’ and ‘Tyndrum 3.’ Minginish has already been examined by MAHLI and APXS. Then the Right Mastcam will take images of Askival 3 and Ledmore 2, as well as a 9×1 mosaic of ‘Lorne Plateau’ (the area to the south), a large mosaic to provide complete coverage of the area in front of the rover, named ‘Bressay,’ and a 3×3 mosaic of the ‘Jedburgh’ area closer the rover toward the south. All these data will give the science team plenty to think about as we try to better understand the variety of rocks at Bressay.
We are transitioning into restricted planning again, so the drive away from Bressay is planned on Sol 2020. The drive target is a conglomerate rock named ‘Waternish.’ After the drive, early on Sol 2021, Mastcam will measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere and Navcam will search for clouds. Later that sol, Navcam will search for dust devils and Mastcam will measure dust opacity again. Then ChemCam will acquire calibration data and will use AEGIS to autonomously select and acquire LIBS data on a target in the new arm workspace. Finally, MARDI will take an image of the ground under the rover during twilight, to sample the terrain once again. Overall, it was a good day for me as SOWG Chair, and despite the late start we finished planning in time for me to take my wife out on her birthday this evening!
Written by Ken Herkenhoff, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center