Sol 59 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Before the Descent5 October 2012
The data from Sol 58 show that the ripple is suitable for scooping, so the Sol 59 plan includes a short rover drive to position the rover near a part of the ripple that has not been disturbed yet. The MAHLI images of the wall are beautiful and show that the interior of the ripple is mostly fine-grained sand. The grain sizes in the ripple are just what is needed to test and clean the CHIMRA. The layer of coarse grains on the surface of the ripple is thin and is covered by only a thin layer of dust.
We expect to get a large volume of data through MRO in the afternoon of Sol 59, so planning was relatively easy. We were able to include all of the science observations requested by the team, including the first half of a "long-baseline stereo" Mastcam mosaic. The Sol 59 drive should place the rover 1.1 m to the north of the current location, which will provide a nice offset for stereo images taken looking east. We targeted an interesting area south of Glenelg that we don't plan to visit before leaving this area, so this is a good opportunity to image it before descending to Glenelg.