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Science Report

Date: 12/27/2013 132.5
Crew Geologist: Michael Bouchard

                  Yesterday I spent most of the day assembling the Ultra Violet Spectrometer Prototype (fig 1 and 2). I took images of all of the pieces and made notes as to my assembly procedure. I hope that this document will enable our prototype to be replicated. All hardware works and it is ready to run the samples I collect from the field. Yesterday I sat down with the next EVA crew to plan our traverse and prepped for my second Geology EVA.

                  Today we completed GeoEVA_2/GHEVA_1. It was very successful Geologically. The selected site was in a eroded frozen stream bed. This allowed me to investigate the transition from erosion to depositional environments as well as gave me a great look at the stratigraphy below our habitat.

                  We took the ATV's out North along the road. We were also looking for a good site to collect soil for the Green House. We stopped at a river overflow valley I thought would be a good site for that. It was a bust. It was completely covered with snow, and we could not get more that a few centimeters into the regolith (fig 3). So we proceeded to the main parking site for the ATV's.

                  This location is directly East of the peak we investigated in GeoEVA_1 (fig 4 and 5). These two sites combined give us a very good view of the stratigraphic column above and below us. The walk out to the river cut was very informative. Along the way we found fluvial deposits containing lot of float (fig 6). Among the float were pieces of chert, which is a good indicator of water systems, and surprisingly igneous rocks. We discovered rounded vesicular basalt. The degree of rounding makes me suspect that there was a volcanic region up path and these have been transported with other sediments. This is the first non sedimentary rocks we have found. There were also quartz mineralization in joints of a brown sandstone. This shows another generation of water systems, most likely hydrothermal post lithification.

                  Farther East I selected another sample site. Here I discovered banding of an unidentified white mineralization in the subsurface (fig 7). I have seen this layer on the surface of rocks, and we are uncertain if it is biologic or chemical in nature. Its presence in the subsurface makes it an interesting feature though. Near the end of the traverse I reclaimed some of the white mineralization on a the surface of a grey mudstone. We also found desert varnish on loose rocks in this area.

                  We reached the area where the river has cut into the bank. What a site! I could have spent two hours here alone! There was 3 meters of exposed sedimentary history, and it was packed full of information (fig 8). There were large sandy conglomerate layers alternating with hard pink mudstones. Some of these conglomerate layers exhibited distinct cross bedding. There was more evidence of the pink and white homogenous blend. Also there was a 2 inch thick layer of incompetent green mudstone, and arkose sand stone.

                  Towards the base of this face was my favorite find of the day (fig 9). A beautiful set of crossbeded sandy sediments. They alternated whites, pinks, grays, and reds in an almost lanticular feature. All in a tight clean 8 inches. The distinctive feature gave us good topping indicators as the beds were truncated by the ones coming on top. I made a sketch of the wall (fig 12). We hiked up along the ridge to gain some perspective before retracing our steps and following the channel (fig 10).

                  There were was one section that was easily 3 meters tall that had some beautiful and faint cross bedding. It reminded me of the Navjo formation as I've seen it in other trips to this region. However it was too thin and more white in color than the distinctive orange. If I can track down what the unit is I can constrain our stratigraphic sequence for this area.

                  Near our turn around site at waypoint four we discovered some interesting mud rock. There were beds dipping about 30 degrees to the west, ridding up onto beds barely dipping to the East. I found a fold node the size of a baseball (fig 11). It looks as if this unit in the center of the stream was plastically deformed. This is the first example of any really deformation history other than jointing we have found.

                  This was a very exciting and helpful day. I took five soil samples from diverse terrain to run in the UV spec, and I got a lot of interesting data for the map. We took out the ATV's which was not only a lot of fun but also allowed us to cover a lot more distance (It also kept me from stopping at every outcrop along the way!). We took the second generation analog suits and this gave me some very helpful information for my equipment survey. I can now compare the two experiences. All in all I am making great headway!

Note: figures not included 


Astronomy Report
Nick Orenstein
For the night of 12-26-13

Last night was we had our first use of the observatory. I ran the telescope since I had taken the training, and everyone else took turns looking in the eyepiece. Before we went to the observatory I showed everyone the documents from the training website. We didn't do any astrophotography because it was our first use, but next time we will.
All of the equipment is in wonderful working order. No problems to report. All are impressed with the quality of the observatory equipment.
The night weather was crisp, clear, and cold. The moon was not expected to rise until 2am as a crescent so the sky was dark and the stars countless and bright. I have observed the sky from many places on Earth and MDRS is now my favorite in the Northern Hemisphere. I was lucky enough to observe at the shores of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. MDRS is a very close second to this location. 
For all seven of us, last night's sky is one we'll never forget. Oooh, aahs, and "amazings" were constant.
We calibrated the telescope to Pollux and Caph and viewed: M47 (Pleiades), M42 (Great Orion Nebula), Jupiter with cloud bands and 4 moons visible, M41 open cluster, Sirius, and the Andromeda Galaxy. These were spectacular samples of beautiful objects.
Seeing the fuzzy haze of Andromeda Galaxy was especially inspiring to me as it was an object I'd never seen through a telescope. What a mind-blowing view! Oh, to contemplate the expanse of space and see another _galaxy_!