Lemonade from lemons! NASA to explore Mars

Hazcam image of APXS contacting the nodal basis “Artemisio” over the weekend. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech. download image ›

Plot planning date: Tuesday, September 5, 2023

The team knew when they started planning today that there would be a discussion about which activities should be given the highest priority. There is an unusually early resolution downlink lane which also has only a low data volume. This means that we will need to discuss how to reconcile the science of arm communication with the science of target and leadership before that. However, we really didn’t have to make the difficult decision after all. While the weekend drive was executed perfectly through this challenging terrain of sand and big blocks, Curiosity ended up with one wheel attached to a rock. The rover engineers determined that if the rover slipped off the rock, the drop would be about 13 cm. This is too high a risk to safely disengage the arm and do contact flag (our first lemon). The second lemon we had to deal with was that the shooting obtained in our driving direction only allowed a short drive of about 20 metres. However, the scientific team is always ready to make lemonade from lemons, and take the opportunity to increase the number of targeted scientific observations.

We continue to acquire images of the Gediz Vallis mountain range to help us understand how this relatively late feature formed within Gale crater. Large, abundant masses within the mound sediments indicate a relatively high energy environment, for example, a landslide, flood event, or possibly glacial activity. How do the embedded blocks relate to other rocks already found within Gale Crater, and to the exposed strata on top of Mount Sharp? Are there separate groups or layers of sediment within the hills that may represent different deposition events and processes? Are there noticeable changes in the ridge as we drive from north to south? What is the nature of communication with the sofa-bearing unit? Mastcam Mosaic will be great in this plan to help us continue to address these questions. To continue looking at the layers and structure within Cokinan Hill, and to help determine how the layers fit into what we’re walking over, ChemCam will take the RMI mosaic a long way from the hill.

Of course, we’re also interested in documenting what’s in the rover’s immediate vicinity. ChemCam will fire its laser at a rectangular resistive feature (“Olympia”) within an exposed rock block to determine if there is an interesting chemistry associated with it. We analyzed some resistant core rocks with a nodular appearance in the weekend plan using APXS (“Artemisio”). How will the two features compare syntactically and compositionally? We will obtain a Mastcam documentation of the Olympia feature and a mosaic of the immediate surrounding area. Mastcam will also image some nearby resistant fins, ‘Palaeochori’. Even with the two large filming mosaics, the environmental team also managed to squeeze more juice out of those lemons to add in Navcam Dust Devil before we got away. After driving, MARDI will photograph the new terrain below the rover. Standard REMS, DAN and RAD activities complement this plan.

(tags for translation)MSL

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