Sol 2481, July 29, 2019, update by MSL scientist Vivian Sun: After a successful ascent to the top of the southern outcrop in the “Visionarium,” we are now searching for our next drill site. There were no bedrock exposures available for contact science activities in our immediate workspace, so our first order of business today was to identify a drill site area that we will drive to in today’s plan.
There are a number of factors we considered when selecting this drill site. We looked for bedrock that looked “in-place,” meaning bedrock that likely has not been moved since it formed. While there can be “out-of-place” rocks (or “float” rocks) that are interesting, in-place bedrock can be more stable for drilling and its geologic context is simpler to interpret. We also prioritized larger bedrock exposures, as we need room to drill, discard, and analyze the sample. The size of the bedrock slab is even more important than usual at this location because we may consider drilling a second time and delivering sample for a possible SAM wet chemistry experiment. Lastly, we considered other practical constraints, like finding an area that gives us a good parking position and a level surface to drill on. Considering all of these factors, we identified several candidate sites and finally decided to drive to… [More at link]