24 May 2019

Sols 2416-2418: Drill No Go – time for Plan B!

Posted by Ryan Anderson

‘Woodland Bay’ is the elongated, laminated outcrop on the right of this image

At the start of today’s planning, the Geology theme group (GEO) had a major decision to make, whether to drill here at ‘Broad Cairn’ or not. Unfortunately, APXS data indicated that this rock lies just outside of our desired compositional parameters, with lower potassium (K) than we would have liked. This made for a hectic start to planning as we discussed the implications of these results and decided not to drill after all, moving instead to Plan B. We will use this three-sol plan to finish investigating the chemical variability here and then begin the drive back to start a reinvestigation of an earlier target from sol 2359, ‘Woodland Bay,’ around 130 metres away. This is a very interesting laminated rock, with alternating thinner and thicker layers, and it is possible that one of these layers is the source of the pebbles we see strewn about Glen Torridon.

Pre-drive, ChemCam will do some final analysis on the bedrock block here. We will analyze the APXS target Broad Cairn in order to compare results with those from APXS, refine an earlier ChemCam target ‘Hallaig,’ and get a third measurement on a new target ‘Craighead Quarry.’ Mastcam will be very busy, imaging the ChemCam targets, and completing a multispectral image of the Broad Cairn bedrock block.

Post-drive, Mastcam will conduct a clast survey, imaging the ground that we are driving over, as part of an ongoing campaign to document our drive through Gale crater. Our drive to Woodland Bay will be split between this plan and the next plan. So for tomorrow’s planning, we will find ourselves with a new workspace, ready to do full contact science on these new rocks. Once the drive completes, we will image the workspace with Navcam (black and white images) and Mastcam (coloured images), to facilitate that contact science. ChemCam will use AEGIS to analyze two targets, postdrive.

In addition to geology activities, the Environment theme group (ENV) scheduled a series of tau observations, used to measure atmospheric opacity, and a series of movies, including dust devil, suprahorizon and zenith movies, in addition to standard REMS and DAN activities.

Written by Catherine O’Connell, Planetary Geologist at University of New Brunswick-Cooper