Sol 1309: Can’t Catch a Break

We just can’t catch a break lately! Curiosity is healthy but unfortunately the plan for the weekend was not transmitted to Mars due to a Deep Space Network outage. That means that the contact science that was planned for the weekend is lost, but the team decided that it was not important enough for us to delay driving. Today’s plan attempts to at least recover the remote sensing observations before we move on.

The Sol 1309 plan starts off with a continuation of the previous mosaic of the target “Rasthof” plus a multispectral observation of the target “Ruacana”. ChemCam then has a long distance RMI mosaic of some mesas to the west of the Peace Vallis fan, followed by an analysis of some dark cap rock at the target “Kapako”. Mastcam will document Kapako and finish up with a small mosaic of some interesting textures in a nearby part of the outcrop. After that, we have a short drive followed by standard post-drive imaging. In the afternoon, Mastcam and Navcam have several atmospheric observations and MARDI has an image of the terrain beneath the rover. Finally, in the early morning of Sol 1310 Mastcam has a mosaic of Mt. Sharp.

 

Ryan Anderson is a planetary scientist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the ChemCam team on MSL.

 

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the martian environment, communication relays and rover status

Ken’s Sol 1307-1308 Update: Deja vu all over Again

08 April 2016 – On Sol 1305, the rover straightened its wheels in preparation for a drive, but then the fault that prevented driving earlier this week occurred again, and the vehicle did not move. The engineers are preparing to send parameter changes that will eliminate mobility actuator sensitivity to the transient power spikes.

Fortunately, there are some rocks in front of the rover that are suitable for contact science, so the arm will be deployed on Sol 1307. But first, ChemCam and Mastcam will examine a bedrock target named “Divundu” and rock target “Kapako,” and Mastcam will acquire a full multispectral set of images of a distant bright ridge called “Ruacana.” Later that sol, MAHLI will take a couple images of Divundu before the DRT brushes dust off of the target. MAHLI will then acquire a full suite of images of the brushed spot and smaller sets of images of a rock named “Gaio” and a bedrock target called “Lucira.” The APXS will be placed on Gaio for a couple of evening integrations, then on Divundu for a long overnight integration.

Early on the morning of Sol 1308, the Right Mastcam will acquire a mosaic of the north side of Aeolis Mons (“Mt. Sharp”). Later that morning, Navcam will search for clouds and dust devils, and Mastcam will image the crater rim to determine how much dust is in the air within Gale crater. In the afternoon, the arm will be stowed before Mastcam acquires a multispectral observation of the Divundu brush spot before the rover attempts to drive again. After taking the usual post-drive images, the rover will go to sleep and recharge its batteries in preparation for Monday’s activities. Only 2 sols are being planned today, to get the tactical schedule back in sync with “Mars time.”

Ken Herkenhoff is a ChemCam RMI specialist. An archive of Ken’s past updates can be read at http://astrogeology.usgs.gov/news/.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

Ken’s Sol 1305-1306 Update: Deja vu

06 April 2016 – Once again, the Sol 1303 drive stopped during wheel steering, apparently due to another short in the RTG. While the power and mobility engineers investigate the fault and ways to respond to them, another drive will be attempted on Sol 1305. The remote science observations made on Sol 1303 went well, so only one ChemCam/Mastcam observation is planned before the Sol 1305 drive, of a rock with interesting surface texture dubbed “Katwitwi.” Early on Sol 1306, Navcam, Mastcam and ChemCam will look for clouds and dust devils, and measure the amount of dust and various gasses in the atmosphere. Later that sol, Mastcam will observe the Sun again and Navcam will acquire a panorama of the rover deck to look for changes in the distribution of dust and debris. Overnight, CheMin will analyze and empty sample cell to improve instrument calibration.

Ken Herkenhoff is a ChemCam RMI specialist. An archive of Ken’s past updates can be read at http://astrogeology.usgs.gov/news/.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

Sols 1303-1304: Driving Again

4 April 2016 – The Sol 1301 drive halted after only 4.5 meters of progress, apparently due to a short in the RTG that caused a steering actuator fault.  This type of fault has occurred before, so we are planning a drive toward the northwest on Sol 1303.  Before the drive, lots of remote sensing science is planned, starting with a Right Mastcam mosaic of an outcrop toward the southwest dubbed “Rasthof.”  Then ChemCam and Mastcam will observe bedrock targets “Tsondab,” “Omingonde,” and “Marble Koppie,” and Mastcam will observe the Sun and the distant crater rim to measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere.  After the drive and the usual post-drive observations, on Sol 1304 ChemCam will shoot its laser at its titanium calibration target and Navcam will search for clouds again.

 

by Ken Herkenhoff is a ChemCam RMI specialist. An archive of Ken’s past updates can be read at http://astrogeology.usgs.gov/news/.

 

 

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

Sols 1300-1302: Approaching the Edge of the Plateau

1 April 2016 – Everything went well in Wednesday’s plan, and we are near the edge of the Naukluft plateau, driving across “Stimson” bedrock. The weekend plan begins on Sol 1300 with three ChemCam observations of the bedrock target “Bero” and fracture targets “Iona”, “and “Arco” along with Mastcam documentation. This is followed up by some MAHLI and Mastcam images of Bero before and after brushing off the dust. MAHLI also has some images of Gudaus and APXS will measure the composition of Gudaus and Bero.

In the early morning on Sol 1301, Mastcam has 4 mosaics of various portions of the Stimson unit. These include areas with fractures and nodules, as well as some interesting layers in a nearby outcrop. After that, the plan is to drive about 50 meters and collect our standard post-drive images.

On Sol 1302, Navcam and Mastcam have a bunch of atmospheric observations, and ChemCam has a long-distance observation of Peace Vallis, the large valley carved into the northern rim of the crater. Mastcam will then round out the day with a large 360 degree panorama from our end-of-drive location.

Next week we are having a team meeting out in Pasadena, so there will probably be a hiatus in our blogging.

Ryan Anderson is a planetary scientist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the ChemCam team on MSL.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the martian environment, communication relays and rover status

Ken’s Sol 1298-1299 Update: Drive cut Short

30 March 2016 – The Sol 1296 drive was halted after only 4 meters of progress because the suspension on the left side of the rover was more tilted than expected. Suspension checks are routinely included in drive sequences, to keep the vehicle safe, and MSL is indeed safe. So the Sol 1298 plan includes a drive to the same location as previously planned. We were also able to squeeze in some pre-drive remote science: ChemCam and Mastcam will observe rock targets named “Blaubock 2” and “Chapeu Armado.” Sol 1299 observations are untargeted because they will occur after the drive, and include Mastcam, ChemCam, and Navcam measurements of the sun and sky.

I was MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead again today, with only the usual MARDI twilight image to plan. But if the rover ends up in a good location for contact science, we’ll be able to plan MAHLI close-up images this weekend.

Ken Herkenhoff is a ChemCam RMI specialist. An archive of Ken’s past updates can be read at http://astrogeology.usgs.gov/news/.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

Ken’s Sol 1296-1297 Update: Driving Across Rough Terrain

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28 March 2016 – MSL drove about 17 meters on Sol 1294, continuing over rough terrain. Some of the images that have been recently received show delicate features that have apparently been formed by windblown sand abrasion. The path ahead is over more rough terrain, but it looks like we will be able to drive ~50 meters on Sol 1296. Before driving, ChemCam and Mastcam will observe bedrock targets “Bloedkoppie,” “Blaubeker” and “Blaubock,” and Mastcam will acquire mosaics of ridges and outcrops of the Stimson sandstone. Planning is restricted, so we are planning untargeted remote sensing observations on Sol 1297: The RMI will acquire a mosaic of a distant target toward the northwest, Mastcam will measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere by imaging the Sun, and Navcam will search for dust devils. Finally, early on Sol 1298, the Left Mastcam will acquire another mosaic of the Stimson sandstone on the Naukluft Plateau.

Ken Herkenhoff is a ChemCam RMI specialist. An archive of Ken’s past updates can be read at http://astrogeology.usgs.gov/news/.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

Lauren’s Sol 1293-1295 Update: Contact Science and Driving

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25 March 2016 – On Sol 1292, Curiosity drove 6 m to the northwest, which put us in a good position for contact science over the weekend. The three-sol plan starts with ChemCam and Mastcam observations of the targets “Gobabis” and “Zerrissene” to assess the composition of the local bedrock. We also planned several Mastcam mosaics to investigate nodules, fractures, and sedimentary structures within the Stimson formation. In the afternoon, we’ll use the DRT to clean the surface of the target “Brukkaros,” to prepare for MAHLI and APXS observations. This region of the Naukluft Plateau exhibits high thermal inertia signatures from orbit, so we want to see if those signatures are related to cementation. Then we’ll leave APXS on “Brukkaros” for an overnight integration. On the second sol we’ll drive further to the west, and take standard post-drive imaging. The third sol includes a long distance RMI mosaic to characterize part of Peace Vallis. We’re on a topographically high part of the Naukluft Plateau, so it’s a great place to survey the landscape in all directions.

Lauren Edgar is a Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the MSL science team.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

Lauren’s Sol 1292 Update: Gnarly Terrain Ahead

24 March 2016 – Data was recovered from the missing MRO pass on Sol 1290, and we confirmed that the 23 m drive went well. Today’s plan is to keep driving across the Naukluft Plateau. The terrain looks pretty rough, so we’re plotting our course carefully. Science activities in today’s plan include ChemCam and Mastcam observations to assess the local bedrock, and a Mastcam mosaic to document the sedimentary structures exposed here. The plan also includes some Mastcam observations to assess atmospheric opacity. After the drive, we’ll take our standard post-drive imaging to prepare for future targeting and the possibility of contact science in the weekend plan.

Lauren Edgar is a Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the MSL science team.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

Lauren’s Sol 1291 Update: Another Curveball

23 March 2016 – Mars is certainly keeping us on our toes this week, and reminding us how challenging it can be to do remote operations on another planet. We use two satellites in orbit around Mars to relay data: Mars Odyssey (ODY) and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). On Sol 1290, the ODY pass relayed data that showed the rover status was healthy. However, the MRO pass was not received due to an issue with the Deep Space Network (DSN), and that was the pass that contained data about how the drive went. So today turned into an untargeted remote sensing day, while we wait for updated information. It was a good opportunity to catch up on some ChemCam calibration activities, deck monitoring, and environmental observations. The MRO data will be retransmitted, and hopefully we’ll be back on the road tomorrow!

Lauren Edgar is a Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the MSL science team.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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