The team awoke fresh faced and ready to get back into their traverses on day 2. After a chat around breakfast, coffee, and stick throwing for our resident Martian dogs, Ruby, Becca, Sarah, and John prepared themselves to head back out and do their science teams’ bidding, and the TIGER team headed out to finish their in-situ investigations of the field site.
While the rovers and instruments were out gathering data, the science teams remained at base camp, plotting their next moves. They had all of day 2, and a brief bit of time the following day to finish their investigations, and still had many questions to be answered, and quite a bit of ground to cover.
Throughout the day, the rovers and instruments struggled (but succeeded) to not give away anything when receiving instructions from their science teams. Everyone was wondering what the science teams would find, and if they would find the rock that had been unanimously named the “most interesting” unit of the whole site – a cap rock containing a carbonate and silica microbial mat that the Tiger team had named “SWAMM” (Siliceous WAvy Microbial Mat). The walkabout team (Geoff and Michelle) had encountered this unit on day 1, but luck had it that the location they imaged was not as nice of a structure, and they interpreted the linear features as fractures. Towards the end of day 2, the linear team (Aileen and Linda) happened to have Ruby take a mid-drive image in just the right location, and noticed a float rock from that unit. They squeezed in a detailed investigation of the float rock and surrounding area before the end of the day, which ended up re-focusing the remainder of their investigative efforts on day 3.
It’s important to note that in this case, Aileen and Linda’s serendipitous initial image of the SWAMM unit, and Michelle and Geoff’s alternate identification had nothing to do with the merits of linear vs. walkabout methodology, nor Michelle and Geoff’s abilities as planetary scientists. It was simply a matter of sheer dumb luck – which is always a factor in remote investigations. Aileen and Linda asked Ruby Rover to take a mid-drive image at just the right location at just the right time of day (with a good lighting angle to see a particular feature). When taking her pictures, Ruby just happened to start low enough in her field of view that Linda and Aileen saw an interesting float block down near her feet. The other fateful part of this equation was that Linda was looking at the image. With decades of experience looking at exactly these structures, and a picture of a beautiful example sitting right in front of her, she was immediately interested. While Geoff is also very familiar with microbial mat structures, the location he and Michelle happened to get a picture of did not have the same distinctive features, and was easily missed. All of these variables were discussed at length at the end of the week, but for now, neither team knew what the other had seen.
Day 2 ended with discussion over a delicious dinner, Becca’s first s’more, and light up bocce ball.
Other 2016 GHOST rover posts: