27 November 2018
Curiosity woke up to Mr Rogers ‘Please would you be my neighbour’ this morning to welcome InSight, and then got very busy at the Highfield drill site. Every plan has its personality, and the upcoming one is that of a gymnast – at least as far as the arm is concerned: Curiosity will dump the Highfield sample, which requires several MAHLI looks and an APXS operation, but the plan also requires swinging the arm out of the way so other instruments can have their unobscured look at the dump pile.
Of course, the main activity is to look at the Highfield dump pile with all instruments available. APXS will get the chemistry, and Navcam, Mastcam and MAHLI will have a close look. In addition, a Mastcam multispectral and a ChemCam passive observation will add to the information collected from the dump pile.
Not only the arm, but also ChemCam is very busy these two sols, as in addition to the dump pile activities, it will look at four samples, two of which are re-targeted. One of the samples that we try to get a better look at is ‘Little Colonsay.’ The planning team thinks it might be a meteorite because it is so shiny. But looks can deceive, and proof will only come from the chemistry. Unfortunately, the small target was missed in the previous attempt, and with the information from that, Curiosity will try again. Another very small target is the target ‘Flanders Moss,’ which shows an interesting, dark coloured coating, for which chemistry is required to confirm its nature. Two additional targets, ‘Forres’ and ‘Eildon,’ are to add to the database of the grey Jura bedrock before we leave the Highfield site next week.
Beyond ChemCam, Curiosity will document the workspace with a Mastcam M34 mosaic, and of course document all ChemCam targets. Finally, the environmental observations continue with a crater rim extinction, Mastcam Tau and dust devil monitoring. …a busy two sols on Mars!
Written by Susanne Schwenzer, Planetary Geologist at The Open University