Title: Mars Mission to Examine Gediz Vallis Ridge for Evidence of High-Energy Events
Date: September 5, 2023
Jala News – In an effort to unlock the mysteries of Mars, NASA’s Mars rover has successfully completed a weekend drive, paving the way for a highly anticipated mission to examine the Gediz Vallis ridge. Despite facing some challenges along the way, the science team remains determined to gather valuable information about the planet’s history.
The upcoming mission, scheduled for Tuesday, will focus on understanding the formation of the Gediz Vallis ridge and determining the existence of large blocks that indicate past high-energy events such as landslides, flooding, or glacial activity. This investigation will provide crucial insights into the geological processes that have shaped Mars over time.
However, planning for the mission was not without its difficulties. The team had to prioritize activities due to an early decisional downlink pass with limited data volume. This proved to be a challenge as the scientists had to fit in arm contact science, targeted science, and a drive before the pass. Nevertheless, the weekend drive progressed smoothly, albeit with the rover ending up with one wheel perched on a rock, making it too risky to unstow the arm and conduct contact science.
Limited imaging in the drive direction also posed restrictions, resulting in a shorter drive of approximately 20 meters. Nonetheless, the science team remained undeterred and took this opportunity to increase the number of targeted science observations.
During the mission, the scientists aim to address several key questions. They plan to investigate the relationship between the blocks in the Gediz Vallis ridge and other rocks in the Gale crater. Additionally, they will examine the presence of distinct sediment layers in the ridge and analyze any changes in its characteristics from north to south. The team is also eager to understand the nature of contact with the sulfate-bearing unit, which will shed light on the geological history of Mars.
To conduct a thorough investigation, a large Mastcam mosaic will be acquired, providing detailed images to aid in answering these questions. Furthermore, the ChemCam instrument will be utilized to take a long-distance RMI mosaic of the Kukenan butte, helping scientists study its layering and unravel its stratigraphy. The immediate vicinity of the rover will also be closely examined, with ChemCam firing its laser at an elongate resistant feature called “Olympia” in bedrock. In addition, a resistant, nodular-looking bedrock named “Artemisio” will be analyzed using the APXS instrument.
Various other activities are also planned for the mission. Mastcam will capture documentation images of the Olympia feature and create a mosaic of the surrounding area. Furthermore, nearby resistant fins called “Palaeochori” will be imaged. The environmental team has included a Navcam dust devil movie in the plan, and after the drive, MARDI will provide images of the new terrain beneath the rover. Standard REMS, DAN, and RAD activities will also be carried out.
The groundbreaking Mars mission is set to provide invaluable insights into the geological history of the planet as the science team works diligently to decipher its mysteries. Stay tuned for further updates on the Jala News site as we follow the progress of this exciting mission.
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