16 August 2019
Conjunction is the few-week period when Mars goes behind the sun and we stop communicating with our spacecraft that are there. Our last planning day before conjunction will be next Friday, and thinking about that fast approaching day feels very similar to thinking about getting ready to leave for vacation. The Curiosity science team has many things we want to wrap up before conjunction, so we’re trying to work extra hard to do as much as we can before setting up Curiosity’s (figurative) auto-reply ‘I’m behind the sun’ email.
This weekend’s plan is all about running additional SAM analyses on the Glen Etive drill sample. We are planning to deliver a portion of the drill sample to SAM on lucky sol 2500, and SAM will analyze its composition using the gas chromatograph and mass spectrometer (GC-MS) on sol 2501. This SAM activity is preceded by an activity to clean the GC column on sol 2499, and the combined observations use so much power, there’s not a lot left for other activities. We did manage to fit in a little bit of remote sensing, taking two ChemCam targets of ‘Sutherland’ and ‘Risk’ with their associated Mastcam images, along with some images to monitor dust in the atmosphere. Looking forward to seeing the results from this weekend’s SAM run!
Written by Abigail Fraeman, Planetary Geologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory