11 July 2019

Sols 2463-2464: A fountain of data

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Curiosity continued work on and around the gorgeous outcrop pictured above that was started on Sol 2461. The layers of the outcrop – with their different colors, textures and thicknesses – tell us a story, one we worked to decipher in this plan with our full complement of contact and targeted science instruments. MAHLI and APXS will start by analyzing a grayish red target, ‘Tay,’ on a block adjacent to the one pictured. The team hoped Tay’s grayish red color would be indicative of less dust cover; in other words, a chance for Tay to tell us a clearer story! ChemCam will shoot another gray target, ‘Donside,’ that resembles one of the thicker gray layers seen in the outcrop above, and ‘Fountainbridge,’ located on the farside of the outcrop where it exhibits a cracked texture. Off to the right of the rover, Mastcam will image a block, ‘Achmelvich,’ near the right rear wheel that was shifted during our last drive, revealing the steep face of a sand deposit sitting amongst the bedrock in the area.

Mastcam also turned its gaze to the scene above our lovely workspace, looking toward future sites of exploration. We planned a five image stereo mosaic of ‘Annan,’ our drive target in today’s plan, and a 19 image stereo mosaic of ‘Craigeven Bay.’ Both Annan and Craigeven Bay exhibit bedding structures that caught the team’s eye; stereo imaging will give us a better three-dimensional sense for those structures. MAHLI also got in on the landscape-imaging act, acquiring an image from the stowed position. MAHLI‘s view will incorporate our path over the last month or so. The last MAHLI stowed image was acquired over 700 sols ago!

Annan is not far from today’s workspace – only about 7 m away. After the drive, we will unstow the arm to get a clearer look at our workspace. The short drive means we can still reliably target Mastcam at distant targets. Thus, Mastcam will gather multispectral data from outcrops that we will visit in the coming weeks and months. The hope is that these data will highlight differences among the terrains that are not apparent at visible wavelengths of light alone. Curiosity will briefly look skyward, acquiring Navcam and Mastcam images looking for clouds and measuring atmospheric opacity. CheMin completes the plan with an activity to make sure one of its reusable cells is empty and ready for the next sample.

Written by Michelle Minitti, Planetary Geologist at Framework