22 April 2019
The drilling planned for last weekend was successful, so the top priority for Sol 2386 is to drop portions of the Kilmarie sample onto a closed SAM inlet cover and take Mastcam images after each dropoff to characterize the size of each portion. The results of this portioning test will be used to decide how many portions to eventually drop into SAM. After this testing is completed, Mastcam will measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere above MSL by imaging the Sun through neutral-density filters, and Navcam will search for clouds. Then the ChemCam RMI will acquire a ‘stack’ of images of the Aberlady drill hole at various focus settings to find the best focus setting for future LIBS elemental chemistry measurements from our new vantage point. The RMI will also acquire a couple mosaics of the sulfate-rich rocks exposed in the distance southeast of the rover. Mastcam will measure variations in sky brightness to constrain the size of dust grains suspended in the atmosphere before the rover takes a long nap. Late that evening, CheMin will vibrate its inlet sieve and dump the Aberlady sample in preparation for analysis of the Kilmarie drill sample.
On Sol 2387, Mastcam will again measure dust opacity and Navcam will search for dust devils and clouds. ChemCam will then use its laser to measure the elemental chemistry in the wall of the new Kilmarie drill hole and of a nearby pebble named ‘Quirang’ and a bedrock outcrop named ‘Caledonian Canal.’ The Right Mastcam will image all of the ChemCam targets before DAN turns on its neutron generator to search for hydrogen up to half a meter below the surface.
It was a quiet day for me and the other MAHLI/MARDI uplink leads, as MAHLI activities are precluded while there is sample in the drill stem. Still, it was interesting to follow the tactical planning today!
Written by Ken Herkenhoff, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center