22 July 2019

Sol 2472-2473: Additional Contact Science and a Soliday at Sandside Harbour

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Curiosity is still parked in front of an outcrop known as ‘Sandside Harbour’ in order to investigate differences in the lighter and darker outcrop expressions. Contact science in the previous plan went well, and today we have one more opportunity to look for differences in sedimentary structures and composition before driving on to the next outcrop.

The plan starts with Mastcam multispectral observations to characterize the two different parts of this outcrop, as well as a unique fin of bedrock sticking out at ‘Joppa Shore.’ Mastcam will also be used to document some nearby stratigraphy at ‘North Minch’ and an interesting green rock named ‘Halkirk.’ Then ChemCam will assess the chemistry of ‘Blackstones Bank’ (part of the darker outcrop) and ‘Essendy’ (a target on the lighter outcrop). We also planned a large Mastcam mosaic to document the ‘Sandside Harbour’ outcrop. The main focus of the plan is to use the DRT, MAHLI, and APXS to characterize the darker outcrop for comparison with the lighter outcrop measurements that were taken previously. ‘East Shetland,’ shown in the right side of the above Navcam image, is the top priority today. We’ll also acquire MAHLI and APXS on ‘Essendy,’ located on the left side of the above image. On the second sol, Navcam will monitor the atmosphere with a suprahorizon movie and dust devil survey. Then we’ll drive west to another outcrop and take post-drive imaging to prepare for even more contact science on Monday. Curiosity will wake up early on Sol 2474 for some additional environmental monitoring activities.

I was the SOWG Chair today, and it was a fun day of planning. Rather than the usual 3-sol weekend plan, this plan is only two sols due to a soliday on Saturday (a day without planning to allow Earth and Mars schedules to sync back up). But I’d prefer to think that Curiosity is using the soliday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and appreciating those early explorers who laid the groundwork for the exciting work we get to do on other planets today!

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