21 May 2019

Sol 2413: Back to work after a weekend at the beach

Posted by Ryan Anderson

After spending the weekend playing in the sand of a nearby ripple field, Curiosity is back on the move, searching for our next drill target. Since nothing in our current workspace stuck out as an obvious drill candidate, we planned a ~10 meter drive south towards an area that may be more promising.

But there is still lots to get done here before we leave, including targeting ‘Galashiels’ with APXS and more distant ‘Hallaig’ with the ChemCam LIBS instrument in order to characterize the chemical composition of these rocks. Although unreachable from our current position, ‘Hallaig’ is being considered for drilling pending the ChemCam results. Tosol‘s plan also included a Mastcam stereo mosaic of the southern side of the Vera Rubin Ridge, which displays an interesting rubbly texture. The rover’s current location is the closest we will ever get to this side of the ridge, so it was a high priority for the team to image this outcrop before driving away. A short Navcam dust devil movie will continue our regular monitoring of dust-lifting vortices in Gale crater.

In order to facilitate planning tomorrow, the team also included various post-drive observations, including standard Navcam mosaics, a Mastcam workspace survey and stereo image, and a ChemCam AEGIS observation which should provide even more geologic context for assessing tomorrow’s workspace. Hopefully these data combined with the chemical analysis of ‘Hallaig’ will help us determine whether we will be able to drill in this area or if we will have to continue driving in search of our next drill target.

This Navcam image acquired on Sol 2412 shows a portion of the ripple field we explored over the weekend, as well as some of the rubbly material comprising the southern side of the Vera Rubin Ridge. This outcrop will be the target of a higher resolution Mastcam stereo mosaic planned today.

Written by Mariah Baker, Planetary Geologist at Johns Hopkins University