27 June 2018
After a steep drive Sol 2094, Curiosity is back over the crest of Vera Rubin Ridge and enjoying the view of flatter terrain ahead. I was the SOWG Chair on this late slide sol, which means that we started planning 3.5 hours later than usual. Everything was going smoothly and we were excited to plan some potential contact science, until we found a rock under the left front wheel that might make Curiosity unstable during arm activities. So at the last minute we swapped out MAHLI and APXS activities for some additional remote sensing. We still packed a lot of science into the two-sol plan, and we’ll have another opportunity to do contact science in the weekend plan.
The first sol includes ChemCam and Mastcam observations of ‘Crosby’ and ‘Hekkla Lake’ to characterize the bedrock at this location. This plan is also full of atmospheric observations to monitor the ongoing dust storm, which will provide some great data from the surface regarding this unique event. We also planned Mastcam imaging of the rover deck to monitor the accumulation and movement of fine material, as well as a number of ChemCam calibration activities under high atmospheric opacity conditions. Then Curiosity will continue driving to the south and will acquire post-drive imaging to prepare for the weekend plan. Overnight, CheMin will carry out the last analysis of the Duluth drill sample. The second sol includes more atmospheric monitoring and calibration activities, along with a ChemCam AEGIS observation to autonomously target bedrock in our new location. Hoping for clearer skies and fewer loose rocks under our wheels!
Written by Lauren Edgar, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center