3 June 2019

Sols 2422-2423: Familiar rocks at our feet

Posted by Ryan Anderson

On Sol 2420 Curiosity drove ~61 m back to the ‘Woodland Bay’ target, to analyze some interesting thick and thin laminations within the bedrock that we had observed previously, and to characterize compositional diversity. After the long drive over the weekend, it was nice to see some familiar rocks lying just in front of our rover wheels, confirming that the drive had gone well.

Today’s 2-sol plan is focused on contact science to characterize the grain size and stratification within these bedrock blocks, this time focused on a target named ‘Crakaig.’ The plan starts with MAHLI and APXS observations of the bedrock block in the lower left corner in the above Navcam image. Then we’ll acquire a ChemCam observation of ‘Fladen,’ to assess the composition of typical gray bedrock. We’ll also take a Mastcam image of ‘Esk’ to document a potential meteorite nearby. Then Curiosity will bump backwards to reposition ourselves over the stratified bedrock, shown just above our rover wheel in the above Navcam image. Around sunset, Curiosity will turn her eyes to the sky so that Mastcam can observe the color and morphology of noctilucent clouds (ice crystal clouds that remain visible during astronomical twilight). Then on the second sol ChemCam will acquire observations on 2 autonomously selected AEGIS targets, along with some Navcam dust devil and suprahorizon observations to monitor the atmosphere. I was on duty as SOWG Chair today, and it was fun to plan some contact science on these gorgeous sedimentary rocks and look forward to additional contact science in the weekend plan. We’ve had some exciting results in the clay-bearing unit so far (aka Glen Torridon), including the highest amounts of clay minerals observed so far during the mission. You can read more about it in this recent press release! mars.nasa.gov/news/8442/nasas-curiosity-mars-rover-finds-a-clay-cache/

Written by Lauren Edgar, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center