19 August 2018
Unlike normal weekend plans for Curiosity that encompass three martian days, this plan only covers two. This ‘Soliday Sunday’ isn’t really a day off for the rover like it implies, but instead allows the planning schedule on Earth and Mars to get back in sync. On Monday, the team returns to regular planning but there’s still some great science happening this weekend.
CheMin is continuing its analysis of the ‘Stoer’ drill sample but it’s not the only instrument interested in getting a piece of the latest drill target. SAM, Curiosity’s mass spectrometer instrument, is going to receive a sample drop-off from the drill assembly in the weekend plan. However, the Evolved Gas Analysis (EGA) won’t actually be planned until Monday. Evolved Gas Analysis is a powerful technique that allows SAM to reveal the chemical makeup of the sample. In an EGA, the sample is heated and the materials that decompose or desorb (the opposite of adsorbing) at a specific temperature are measured in a mass spectrometer.
Targeted remote sensing on a suite of samples in the workspace continues to help us better understand the context of the drill hole. Environmental monitoring to track the waning dust storm and change detection on the drill hole tailings will also be carried out.
Written by Christopher Edwards, Planetary Geologist at Northern Arizona University