9 September 2018
Curiosity’s last plan didn’t quite get our intrepid rover close enough to our next potential drill location in the gray bedrock that is visually distinct on this part of Vera Rubin Ridge. This weekend’s plan was intended to be ‘Drill Sol 1,’ but since it would require at least another short drive to drill, the team decided to choose another target a little further away that will provide a better science return. So the weekend plan now includes a short drive to our new drill target.
Before we drive, ChemCam will measure the chemistry of the targets ‘Great Bernera,’ ‘Great Glen,’ and ‘Great Todday;’ Mastcam will take images of these same targets including a multispectral observation of Great Todday; and APXS will measure the chemistry of targets ‘Trollochy,’ ‘Burn O Vat,’ and ‘Portobello.’ These observations are intended to document the compositional diversity of the gray and red bedrock at this location by documenting the transition from gray to red.
In addition, the DAN instrument will make a total of 60 minutes of active measurements before the drive. DAN active experiments emit neutrons that interact with the subsurface and then measure the time-of-flight and energy of neutrons that return to the rover. These data allow us to interpret compositional layering and abundances of water bound in minerals in the martian subsurface.
Following our drive, ChemCam has two more sets of chemical measurements on AEGIS targets, APXS will measure the argon abundance in the martian atmosphere, and DAN will take another standard active measurement. Also in the plan are standard DAN passive and environmental monitoring activities with the REMS, RAD, Mastcam, and Navcam instruments.
It’s a weekend packed full of science to set up our next drill campaign!
Written by Sean Czarnecki, Planetary Geologist at Arizona State University