13 November 2018
It’s SAM day for our Highfield drill target! Today we planned to deliver a sample of the ground up rock from our Highfield drill hole to the SAM instrument. The rover will open one of its SAM inlet covers and the arm will be moved over to the top of it and then the drill bit will be reversed in a way that will trickle some finely-ground rock powder down into SAM. Then SAM will heat that rock to very high temperatures and measure the chemical compounds that make up Highfield. This is key to understanding what the Vera Rubin Ridge is made of and its formation history.
SAM activities are power intensive, but we were still able to plan additional work including ChemCam LIBS targets on the Highfield drill hole’s internal edges, some nearby bedrock (‘Fraser Castle’ and ‘Bridge of Don’), as well as a possible meteorite, ‘Little Todday.’ We are also conducting numerous change detection images with Mastcam and MARDI to monitor the motion of the nearby sand and dust on the surface. ENV planned 2 movies to monitor the increasing dust devil activity following this year’s global dust storm as well as atmospheric opacity above and within Gale Crater.
Written by Scott Guzewich, Atmospheric Scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center