15 April 2018
The Sol 2020 drive was completed successfully, placing Curiosity in a good position for contact science on the Waternish conglomerate. To sample the diversity of clasts in Waternish, the Sol 2022 plan includes brushing two spots, a 5-point APXS raster, and lots of MAHLI imaging. But first, ChemCam will shoot its laser at Waternish and
the cobble behind it, named ‘Arrochar.’ After the DRT is finished brushing, MAHLI will acquire full suites of images of one of the brushed spots and of Arrochar, as well as a mosaic of images from 5 cm above the APXS raster spots and context images from 25 cm. Then APXS will go to work on Waternish, followed by placement on Arrochar for an overnight integration. This complex set of arm activities took longer than usual to plan, but should provide a rich dataset.
On Sol 2023, Mastcam will take a full multispectral set of images of Waternish and a 3×3 mosaic of both Waternish and Arrochar. ChemCam will observe two more spots on Waternish, and the Right Mastcam will take an image of the ChemCam target selected by AEGIS on Sol 2021. Then the rover will drive backwards to a nearby sandy ripple, un-stow its arm, and acquire the images needed to plan close-up observations of the ripple. Overnight, APXS will again measure the amount of argon in the atmosphere.
On Sol 2024, ChemCam will gather calibration data, Mastcam will measure the opacity of dust in the atmosphere, and Navcam will search for dust devils. Finally, APXS will perform a short thermal test and MARDI will take another twilight image. Another busy weekend for our intrepid explorer!
Written by Ken Herkenhoff, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center