The SAM and CheMin instrument teams decided that they did not require further analyses of the “Zechstein” drill sample. It is the turn of the arm-mounted MAHLI and APXS instruments to have their taste of the drilled fines. The Zechstein sample held within the drill bit assembly will be dumped out onto the ground, imaged by MAHLI and then analyzed by APXS to determine the composition.
The composition of the dumped material can be compared to the chemistry of the brushed bedrock surface (prior to drilling) and the fines surrounding the drill hole (yet to be acquired) to look for variations with depth. The compositional data can also assist in interpretation of the CheMin and SAM data.
Balancing the power requirements of all the desired observations, as well as of future activities, is always part of the planning process. Today was no exception and the team had to carefully prioritize what other science observations to include in this plan, to ensure that we have enough power to drive away from the Zechstein location in the next plan.
Curiosity is parked in an area where we expect to transition from clay- to sulfate-bearing rocks, and close to the unconformable contact with the overlying, resistant, pediment-capping Siccar Point group sandstones, so there is no shortage of observations on our wish list!
The science team chose to continue Mastcam imaging of Siccar Point, Maria Gordon notch and the base of the pediment, which will also be imaged with long distance ChemCam RMI. In the vicinity of the Zechstein drill hole, ChemCam will interrogate the chemistry of the nearby bedrock target, “Burrell” with its laser, and perform passive spectroscopy on the dumped Zechstein drill fines. Both will also be imaged with Mastcam.
Environmental monitoring activities will include a Navcam dust devil survey, line of site observation and cloud movie. Standard DAN, RAD and REMS activities round out the plan.