8 October 2019
Due to a brief network issue last week, the team had to postpone certain rover activities until after the weekend. As a result, today became “Drill sol 5,” which included the “portion to exhaustion” sequence of the latest drill campaign, during which the rover will portion out the remainder of the drill sample and prepare to dump drilled material onto the surface for further assessment.
Besides the portion to exhaustion activities, the schedule also included a one-hour science block. Luckily, the team had already put together a straightforward plan for this block that required few modifications, making today a relatively low-key planning day, ideal for transitioning slowly back into the work week.
The activities planned for the science block included a special ChemCam passive observation on a distant outcrop called “Bloodstone Hill,” as well as a more standard ChemCam LIBS on “Berryden,” one of the many pebbles seen scattered across the surface (some of which are shown in the Mastcam image above). Mastcam observations included a documentation image of Berryden, a deck image that is used to monitor the accumulation of material on the rover, and a repeat image of the Glen Etive drill hole, taken in preparation for close-up MAHLI images planned for the coming sols. Ten minutes of the one-hour block were allocated for environmental observations, which consisted of two Navcam images that will help characterize dust-lifting processes within Gale crater. Despite the simplicity of today’s planning on Earth, the rover has a lot to get done before tomorrow. Let’s just hope all the activity doesn’t “exhaust” her… it’s only Monday, after all!
Written by Mariah Baker, Planetary Geologist at Johns Hopkins University