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An Intriguing Mess: Sols 4141-4143
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An Intriguing Mess: Sols 4141-4143
by Lauren Edgar, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center
Pasadena CA (JPL) Apr 02, 2024

Earth planning date: Friday, March 29, 2024: Curiosity is approaching an intriguing pile of rocks called "Hinman Col" - a poorly sorted collection of clasts located along the margin of Gediz Vallis ridge. We're hoping to get closer to this deposit over the weekend, to set up for contact science on the different rock types next week. In doing so, we hope to investigate where the different clasts might have come from and how this feature (which looks like a bit of a mess!) relates to the rest of Gediz Vallis ridge.

Today's 3-sol plan is focused on contact science on the bedrock in our workspace, remote sensing to understand our surroundings, and a short bump to prepare for contact science at Hinman Col next week. Before we get to Hinman Col, we have another opportunity to assess the light-toned, laminated bedrock in our workspace.

The science team planned 3 contact science targets, including DRT, MAHLI, and APXS on the target "Rose Lake" to assess the chemistry and textures in typical bedrock. We also planned a MAHLI stereo mosaic on "Whorl Mountain" to model the rock surface and study bedding orientations around some disrupted laminations, and another MAHLI/APXS target called "Little Slide Canyon" to investigate the texture and composition of the more convoluted bedding.

The geology theme group also planned ChemCam LIBS on two bedrock targets, "Robinson Lake" and "Ward Mountain," to characterize rougher and smoother parts of the local bedrock. ChemCam will also be used to acquire long distance RMI mosaics to assess parts of upper Gediz Vallis Ridge at the location known as "Fascination Turret." Meanwhile Mastcam will be busy documenting the ChemCam targets and acquiring mosaics to assess layering and clast configuration in the vertical face of "Fascination Turret."

Then Curiosity will take a very short drive to get into just the right position in front of Hinman Col, hopefully with a variety of rocks in the workspace. After the drive we'll take some post-drive imaging to prepare for future targeting. The third sol includes an untargeted science block, so the team planned an AEGIS activity to add to the bedrock survey of compositional variations.

Throughout the plan, the Environmental theme group planned a lot of great monitoring activities to search for dust devils and clouds, assess atmospheric opacity, and monitor the movement of fines on the rover deck.

Looking forward to learning more about this messy pile of rocks and unraveling the clues that they might record about their emplacement!

Sols 4144-4145: 'Fools on the Hill'
by Natalie Moore | Mission Ops - MSSS Earth planning date: Monday, April 1, 2024: All went well over the weekend for Curiosity, and we came in this morning to find our wheels securely placed on the base of the Hinman Col mound. Even though we only drove ~4 meters, the science team was ablaze with science requests to start off this week of planning. Our battery state of charge was in great shape, too, and the uplink team went to work! It was a swift day with not a lot of time to breathe, let alone make an April Fools joke.

We start off this two-sol plan with an early arm backbone for APXS to take measurements as cold as possible on a rubbly rock target named "Bodie." ChemCam also prefers cooler temperatures for data quality and instrument performance, so after APXS is done the arm is placed out of the way for ChemCam to shoot their laser on another workspace block named "Crystal Crag."

Mastcam likes to take advantage of noon-ish lighting, and follows with over 170 images of the terrain in about 45 minutes. By this time, the sun is in a good spot for MAHLI lighting during their 25 cm and 5 cm stereo images of Bodie. And then, before even taking a nap, we are driving away from Hinman Col and into the next phase of our adventure.

The second sol of this plan includes our usual in-the-blind activities like a ChemCam LIBS decided by the rover software, Navcam dust devil movies, and the standard DAN passive measurements. Bye, Hinman Col! On Wednesday, Mastcam will take a mosaic to show what it looks like from the other side.

Related Links
Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more

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