6 November 2018
Our attempts to drill grey rock on the ‘Vera Rubin Ridge’ (VRR) continue. We are returning to an area known as ‘Lake Orcadie,’ the site of two previous drill attempts (Lake Orcadie and Lake Orcadie 2), which did not penetrate far enough into the bedrock to generate sufficient sample. However, the MSL team feels that the chances of drilling here have improved. Over the past 240 sols, the engineers have further refined the drill technique (here), leading to two successful drilling campaigns (Duluth and Stoer). Additionally, images collected during our previous visit here have helped us to identify three potential drill targets. Criteria such as scratches left in the bedrock by the Dust Removal Tool (DRT) will be used to see if these targets are softer, and therefore more drillable, than our previous choices.
Today’s plan focuses on getting the rover to the right location. This involves a short 20 meter drive, to position us so that we are in arm’s reach of our target. Science Operations revolve around imaging the drill area, filling in any gaps in our characterization of these potential targets, in order to increase the chance of picking the best one. We also want to make sure that any drill fines generated during our previous attempts here have blown away, so that instruments such as MAHLI can operate safely.
Other activities included standard environmental monitoring activities, e.g., dust devil movies, and a CCAM observation on a piece of rock (‘Flotta’) which might represent red Jura bedrock (rather than the grey bedrock we are hoping to drill).
If our bump goes as planned, we will complete our final confirmation analyses on the bedrock this week, and begin drilling before the weekend.
Written by Catherine O’Connell, Planetary Geologist at University of New Brunswick-Cooper