21 November 2018
Today Curiosity is preparing for the imminent arrival of a new visitor to Mars, just as many of us are preparing for the out-of-town visitors who’ll be descending into our homes over the Thanksgiving holiday. NASA’s InSight mission will be landing in Elysium Planum on Monday, Nov. 26 at 12pm PST, and you can watch it on NASA’s livestream starting at 11am PST. Although InSight will be landing 600 km north of Gale crater – too far for Curiosity to ever drop by for a visit – our rover operations will still be impacted because the two spacecraft have to share the limited resources of orbiter relays at Mars and scientist brainpower on Earth. For example, Curiosity’s REMS team will be supporting InSight’s landing on Monday (InSight has wind and air temperature sensors developed by the same group who built REMS at Spain’s Centro de Astrobiología), and they won’t be available to work for Curiosity that day. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean that REMS will be idle on Monday; it just means we need to prepare REMS‘ observations in advance. So today, in addition to planning for Curiosity’s sols 2240-2242 (which will take us through the holiday weekend), the science team also prepared all of the REMS activities that will happen early next week.
During sols 2240-2242, Curiosity will wrap up observations of the Highfield drill sample with a third and final CheMin analysis. Mastcam will be continuing to monitor the movement of sand grains at ‘Sand Loch’ and ‘Windyedge,’ and ChemCam will observe a few new rock targets, including ‘Little Colonsay’ (a potential meteorite), ‘Lunga’ (a dark rock with unusual morphology) and ‘Noss’ (another candidate meteorite).
Written by Melissa Rice, Planetary Geologist at Western Washington University