10 June 2019
It’s a good thing that Curiosity doesn’t have any competition on the road as she drives fervently across undulating terrain towards a large geologic ridge of unknown origin (informally named ‘Waypoint 4’). The weekend plan included a long 44-meter drive to put her in her current location (on a similar, but smaller ridge), and two more 25-meter drives were planned for this week to put her at a good vantage point for imaging the side of the ridge. But the team decided to put the pedal to the metal and try to make it to this ridgeline in just one drive. Ridge features are common throughout the Glen Torridon unit, so characterizing the morphology and chemical composition of these ridges can place important constraints on their formation and on the overarching geologic history of this region. This will be the goal of our investigation at Waypoint 4.
Although her current priority is getting to the large ridge as quickly as possible, Curiosity will still conduct science along the way; today we planned various contact science and remote sensing observations, including ChemCam LIBS on the target ‘Portessie,’ and APXS and MAHLI on target ‘Smoogro.’ Mastcam stereo images will also be acquired on ‘Portessie’ and ‘Lossie.’ Once these activities have concluded, the rover will start her lengthy drive over to Waypoint 4. Post-drive imaging, including standard Navcam, Hazcam, and Mastcam mosaics as well as an extended Navcam upper tier mosaic, will help us assess our end-of-drive location and will provide the first up-close look at the ridge in question. Tomorrow is a designated ‘Soliday,’ but hopefully Curiosity will have made it to her destination by the time normal operations resume on Wednesday… assuming she doesn’t get stuck in any traffic along the way!
Written by Mariah Baker, Planetary Geologist at Johns Hopkins University