27 July 2019
Over the last few weeks Curiosity has collected hundreds of spectacular images, like the one above, that document the layers and textures of rocks exposed in the ‘Visionarium.’ (And as we heard in the last blog, we also set a mission record yesterday for having the highest tilt we’ve ever had while conducting contact science — over 25 degrees!) With all of this imaging under our belt, we’re now hoping to delve deeper into studying the composition of the rocks in the Visionarium, so we are beginning to look for our next potential drill target.
In the plan for the weekend, Curiosity will drive ~10 m to the top of the southern escarpment in the Visionarium. The drive will place us in an ideal location to image potential future drill targets. Before the drive, we’ll spend a sol collecting MAHLI and APXS data from targets named ‘Naver’ and ‘Fetterangus,’ along with ChemCam and Mastcam observations of ‘Malin Sea,’ ‘Loch Katrine,’ and ‘Loch Broom.’ We’ll also take several environmental science monitoring observations, and an 80 frame stereo Mastcam mosaic of ‘Hebrides,’ which is the area where we hope to find our next drill target.
On a personal note, today was an extra fun day of planning for me because I was joined by several science team members during my shift at JPL. Because members of the science team are located all over the world, we usually need to work with phone lines and screen sharing tools to develop our tactical plans each day. However, a lot of scientists traveled to Pasadena, CA, to attend the 9th International Conference on Mars that happened earlier this week, so it was excellent to have them available at the end of the conference to participate in operations in person at JPL!
Written by Abigail Fraeman, Planetary Geologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory