Sol 833-834: New Results From The Murray Formation

8 December 2014

Simulated view of Gale crater lake

The main excitement today was that, as the team was busy planning for sols 833 and 834, NASA held a press conference to share some of the results of our recent investigations in the Murray formation, in the foothills of Mt. Sharp. The layered rocks that we have been observing tell the story of a series of shallow lakes with small deltas formed by sediment deposited from the crater rim. Check out the press release for more details!

In the Sol 833-834 plan, we are planning to do three ChemCam “Z-stack” observations of the target “Vaqueros” which looks like it might be a white mineral-filled vein. Z-stack observations are when the instrument collects data from the same location at several different focus positions. We are planning Z-stacks with ChemCam’s black-and-white camera and the main spectroscopy laser to make sure that we get good data from the target, and to collect information to develop new focusing methods for ChemCam.

Later on sol 833, the high-resolution color camera on the arm (MAHLI – Mars Hand Lens Imager) will collect some images of the fine details of the layers in the Chinle outcrop, at targets called “Coachella” and “Tropico”. Then we will measure the chemical composition of Tropico with the APXS (Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectroscopy) instrument on the arm.

On Sol 834, Navcam (the black and white Navigation cameras) and Mastcam (the mast-mounted color science cameras) will take some atmospheric observations to measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere.

By Ryan Anderson

--Ryan is a planetary scientist and developer at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the ChemCam team on MSL.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.