12 December 2018
The drive around to the north side of ‘Rock Hall’ in yesterday’s plan was successful, placing us at a lower tilt and with room in the workspace to place all the piles of sample we drop on the surface (purposely!) in the aftermath of drilling. Yesterday’s observations of Rock Hall gave us confidence that we were at a promising red Jura target for drilling. ChemCam rasters across three different targets on Rock Hall indicated the slab had chemistry and spectral character consistent with red Jura. Mastcam images focused on the slab demonstrated that while it was dusty in flatter areas, and covered with scattered, loose gray and red pebbles in others, the slab had the red, shiny appearance we associate with red Jura. This placed us farther down the path toward drilling red Jura than we had been with any of our previous sites!
Today’s plan focused on characterizing the would-be drill target. The loose pebbles on the Rock Hall slab precluded use of the DRT, so we will acquire ChemCam, MAHLI and APXS on the unbrushed drill target itself. We will also push the drill into the target, called a pre-load test, to assess the suitability of the Rock Hall block for drilling. Whether or not we see a mark from the drill in the target after the pre-load test will give us some idea of the hardness of the drill target. The science team will scrutinize the mark from the drill (or lack thereof) carefully as a predictor of the likelihood of drilling success.
We also had time to gather data from other targets of interest both on and around the Rock Hall slab. We will acquire MAHLI and APXS on ‘Corrieshalloch Gorge,’ a slightly less dusty (and thus redder) portion of the Rock Hall slab, while we will shoot ‘Cluny Hill,’ a target on a rubbly, heterogeneous neighbor of Rock Hall, with ChemCam. Mastcam multispectral observations of ‘Gometra’ will give us further insight into this candidate iron meteorite target, of which we have had surprisingly many in this part of the ‘Vera Rubin Ridge.’ We will image ‘Marsco,’ a small sand-filled depression that might represent a small impact crater, with Mastcam. Navcam will scan the skies for clouds and dust devils and DAN passive and active observations for H will ping the ground under our new parking spot.
May the (drill) force be with us!
Written by Michelle Minitti, Planetary Geologist at Framework