20 July 2018

Sols 2117-2119: "Ben" There

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Curiosity made great progress yesterday across the ‘Vera Rubin Ridge’ toward the site of our next drilling attempt at ‘Sgurr of Eigg’. In this weekend plan, we will collect more data about the ridge materials around us, and the sky above us, before embarking on a ~12 m drive to Sgurr of Eigg. We drove back into the Torridon quadrangle, so the target names once again have Scottish flavor. ChemCam shot three targets, each with a different characteristic. ‘Ben Stack’ is a representative laminated bedrock target, ‘Ben Avon’ is bedrock with small nodular features throughout it, and ‘Ben Lawers’ includes a thin, resistant layer jutting out above the laminated bedrock surrounding it. APXS will also analyze a representative bedrock target, ‘Walsay,’ but for reasons beyond just the normal chemical characterization of a target. APXS will analyze Walsay at four different distances – from touching the bedrock surface to hovering 3 cm above it – to refine how distance to the target affects APXS data. There are instances when the bedrock is rough enough that APXS cannot be placed directly in contact with a desired target. By conducting this calibration activity at Walsay, we will be better able to understand and interpret APXS data acquired in just such a situation.

The dust storm continues to envelop Curiosity, so our plan includes observations aimed at monitoring the amount of dust in the atmosphere at both early morning and midday times. We planned a dust devil survey, and a pair of cloud movies aimed at the horizon and at the zenith. ChemCam also took aim at the sky with a passive spectral observation to monitor the aerosols and trace gases in the atmosphere.

After the drive on Sol 2119, the rover will unstow her arm before imaging the workspace, providing the team with an unobstructed view of our next drill attempt site. Hopefully, we will be able to hit the ground running with our drill plan on Monday!

Written by Michelle Minitti, Planetary Geologist at Framework