Sol 8 – Mission Operations Centre (MOC), Harwell
This morning the team awoke with a shared air of determination to make the most of our last day of planning, and complete our goal of choosing a suitable site to drill at the foot of a 30m high ridge we are calling “Big Mesa”.
The experimental CLUPI (close-up imager) mosaic we downlinked as soon as we got to mission control gave us a fantastic overview of the ground underneath (though it didn’t quite turn out as expected), and enabled us to identify a relatively pebble-free area to drill into.
A post-drive Panoramic Camera image taken yesterday showing the context for the row of Close-up, high resolution CLUPI images taken to help characterise the best place to drill.
After outlining which instruments were going to be used pre-, during and post-drill, the morning ended with the team looking forwards to seeing what the Rover drill reveals beneath the light-toned, clay-like material on the surface. This drill will give us a great opportunity to test our current working hypotheses on the geology of the area, so although tomorrow will be our final downlink from the rover and Utah field team it is sure to be an interesting one!
As it was also our last day, we didn’t do any “next day” planning, so instead we decided to discuss where we would try to take the Rover if we had more time – say, an extra 5 days.
One suggestion was that we could revisit an eccentric looking outcrop we had called “Outwood” that we passed on our way to our drill site yesterday. This outcrop looks a bit like some of the layered material we have seen in the “Big Mesa” so it would be an exiting target. But… how to get there?
One of the software tools we have been using is called Pro3D. This has been developed by Joanneum Research and VRVis in Austria, along with input from Mullard Space Science Laboratory and Imperial College London in the UK. Pro3D has prove to be a useful tool for MURFI, especially when we have needed to work out the Rover’s proposed route and how hazardous it may be for the rover to reach the science target.
We used Pro3D to work out a route to Outwood and concluded that it would be possible to avoid the dangerous rubbly areas and make it there in 1, or at the most 2 days – even given uncertainties in drive paths or current locations.
An example of some of our route planning work done with Pro3D
This has certainly been an exciting journey at the foot of Big Mesa, and I’m sure the data, and the whole tactical planning experience we have shared, will spark some interesting science discussion for tomorrow.
Fingers crossed that the drill is successful! Can’t wait to see it!
Candice Bedford – Instrument Scientist