Our Monday drive was successful, and we are now fully surrounded by the rocks that cap the Greenheugh pediment. From here we can see hundreds of ventifacts - a term that describes rocks which have been abraded by wind-blown sand into distinctive, flattened facets with crisp edges. This terrain is very different from what we've become used to seeing during our climb up Mt. Sharp!
Today's plan is all about exploring the local area. We will collect APXS and MAHLI observations of a relatively large, less dusty ventifact near the rover's wheel at a target named "Knott." Elsewhere on that same rock, we will also collect a ChemCam LIBS observation of a target with neat sedimentary structures named "Old Nab," as well as a ChemCam RMI observation of another area of the rock named "Little Mell."
This rock is visible in the upper left in the above Navcam image. We'll also collect several Mastcam mosaics of targets near and far, as well as a standard set of observations to monitor our environment. The first day of the plan concludes with a drive to the southwest, towards a very small crater that might give us an interesting glimpse into the sedimentary structures in the area.
At our perch on the top of the pediment, we have a spectacular view of the terrain below. We can see across the plains of Gale crater where we landed all the way to the crater's rim tens of miles in the distance. Slightly closer, we can also see the distinctly layered nature of Gediz Vallis Ridge, which sits on top of the pediment and is one of the youngest geomorphic features on Mt. Sharp (seen to the left in this image). Between the ventifacts and the viewshed, it's quite an imposing place to rest before our next drive.
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Sols 3414-3416: Progress!
Pasadena CA (JPL) Mar 17, 2022
Over the weekend, we completed the planned drive with a relatively easy (by "Greenheugh Pediment" standards) traverse in the pediment. With lots of bedrock in the workspace, we quickly identified a contact science target for APXS and MAHLI, "Oosta," that was slightly less dusty than the surrounding bedrock and nicely layered. We decided not to co-target ChemCam LIBS with the contact science target, to take advantage of targeting some of the exposed vertical faces on the bedrock slabs around the wo ... read more