MISSION UPDATES | May 20, 2019

Sol 2410-2412: Grains, up close!

Written by Susanne Schwenzer, Planetary Geologist at The Open University
Sol 2410-2412: Grains, up close!

Image taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), on Sol 2409 at 09:18:51 UTC. It shows the target Dunoon. This image is about 45 mm by 34 mm.

Curiosity is continuing the investigations at "Rigg." The image in this update shows a close up taken by the MAHLI Hand Lens imager to allow the detailed investigation of the materials that make up the field of ripples. Things the team is looking for are grain size and grain size distribution, and the shape of the grains. In addition to that the colour and lustre of the different grain varieties are of interest to allow us to analyse the variation of phases in the sand. One feature to note, for example, are the pinkish grains on the surface, which appear to be larger than all others.

Tosol's plan is a three-sol plan with many activities imaging the sand ripples and investigating their chemistry. APXS will measure the targets "Nairn" and "Ellon," to investigate the differences of the different soil colours and grain sizes. ChemCam's plans include the soil targets "Seafield Tower," "Saltire" and "Selkirk," whereby Seafield Tower and Saltire are on ripple crests and Selkirk is on a ripple flank. There also is one rock target to investigate a rock colour variation at the target "Camustianavaig."

Mastcam will document all ChemCam targets, but also take two mosaic images, one of the workspace and one looking back at the "Aberlady" and "Kilmarie" drill target area. MAHLI will take a look at the APXS targets from the past and this plan, which are "Donoon," "Gairsay," "Ellon" and "Nairn." Also in the plan are ENV activities and DAN active and passive measurements.

Besides all the science, housekeeping activities are prominent in the plan, too. Curiosity will take images of the drill bit, and do a ChemCam calibration activity.