Lauren’s Sol 1659-1660 Update: Time to hit the road again

5 April 2017 – Curiosity has been carrying out a great investigation at Ogunquit Beach, but we’re still working out some issues related to the drill feed, so the decision was made to drive away in today’s plan. We’re driving away with a cache full of sand, so we can still deliver to CheMin and SAM in a future plan.

I was the Geology Science Theme Lead today, and our plan was focused on picking up a few last observations at Ogunquit Beach before driving away. The plan starts with APXS on undisturbed sand at the target “Pamola,” with corresponding MAHLI documentation images. This observation will be helpful to compare to APXS results from the disturbed sand in the wheel scuff. Later in the afternoon, there’s another arm backbone to run some drill diagnostics. Then we’ll acquire several high-priority Mastcam change detection observations, to monitor the movement of sand in a few places, one of which corresponds to a previous Navcam dust devil survey. We’ll also take two stereo mosaics to evaluate ripple wavelength and height. Before we fully drive away, we’ll position the back of the rover over Ogunquit Beach so DAN can take a measurement. Then Curiosity will continue driving to the south. After the drive we’ll take post-drive imaging for targeting, and prepare for the possibility of contact science in the weekend plan. The second sol includes an autonomously selected ChemCam target, and a ChemCam calibration activity. We’ll also take several Mastcam and Navcam images to search for dust devils and monitor the amount of dust in the atmosphere. Even though we’re leaving the dune behind, there’s some interesting outcrop up ahead so I’m excited to see what the more resistant outcrop might hold!

Lauren Edgar is a Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the MSL science team.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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