20 November 2018
Curiosity is planning a smorgasbord of science over the next few days as it awaits results from digesting the ‘Highfield’ drill target material. We’ll continue change detection observations including subdiurnal (i.e. several times a martian day) Mastcam observations of ‘Sand Loch’ and ‘Windyedge’, as well as MARDI to watch moving sand grains beneath the rover, throughout the planning cycle. There’s also a good helping of Mastcam sky column, Navcam sky flats, crater rim extinction, and suprahorizon and zenith movies to round out the meal of atmospheric events. Repeating observations during the day of the same locations are one of the unique ways the rover can provide an hourly view of Mars’ surface that only a spacecraft on the ground can.
While we’ve sampled the bedrock, and found it quite tasty, we’ll take a nibble with ChemCam at some scattered pebbles nearby: reddish/pink rocks named appropriately ‘Rosemarkie’ and some more bluish toned rocks we called ‘Grey Mares Tail.’ There will also be a second helping of suspected meteorite ‘Little Todday’ with a ChemCam Z-Stack (to measure its compositional variation with depth) and repeat Mastcam of the Highfield drill tailings to see if it’s still being pushed around by daily winds.
For a final dessert, a Mastcam color image of ‘Greenheugh’, a special type of ripple spaced 1.9 m apart that we’ve only seen on Mars, will be taken. The last image of that target was from over 250 sols ago (!), which may allow us to determine how fast they move across the surface
Written by Fred Calef, Planetary Geologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory