Images of the rover wheels showed no evidence of slippage, so the Sol 304 plan included higher-resolution MAHLI images and APXS integration overnight into Sol 305. I’m now MAHLI uplink lead, so was busy planning MAHLI images on 4 different targets. The weekend plan (Sols 305-307) is to finish up at Point Lake then drive away. No more arm activities are planned at Point Lake, so it’s looking like I won’t have any MAHLI work to do today.
The first peer-reviewed paper including ChemCam data from Mars was published in Science today. It discusses the conglomerates found at Gale by Curiosity. ChemCam was used to reveal the specific composition of some pebbles.
Le premier article scientifique avec des données ChemCam martiennes a été publié dans la revue Science aujourd’hui. Il parle des conglomérats trouvés à Gale par Curiosity. ChemCam y révèle la composition de certains galets.
23 May 2013 I was MAHLI uplink lead again for Sol 282, and helped plan images of the SAM and CheMin sample inlets to verify that samples were delivered properly. The plan also included sample dropoff to CheMin and overnight analysis. It’s nice to see that the updates to the MAHLI “self portrait” of the rover that I helped plan on Sol 270 have been incorporated.
The drilling at “Cumberland” went perfectly. The MAHLI images that we planned for Sol 279 came out well. So the plan for Sol 281 includes sieving of the sample and feeding some of it to SAM. This will happen late in the afternoon, when winds are expected to be low, to avoid loosing some of the sample during dropoff to SAM. SAM will then start analyzing the sample overnight.
I’m scheduled to serve as SOWG Chair today and tomorrow, but we won’t be able to plan any new science observations because the recovery from the Sol 200 anomaly is not yet complete. Unfortunately, it appears that we won’t resume normal science planning until next week. But the science team recognizes the importance of keeping the rover healthy, and will continue to be patient as the engineers work the problem.
Rather than continue with recovery efforts, MSL will be shut down due to intense solar activity. A big “coronal mass ejection” is predicted to hit Mars on Sol 207, so the rover will be commanded to go to sleep to avoid problems like the Sol 200 anomaly. Space weather can be nasty!
Kat Gardner-Vandy, a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, interviewed Bethany for the 51+ Women in Planetary Science series over the phone.Dr. Bethany Ehlmann has a joint position as an assistant professor of planetary science at the California Institute of Technology and as a research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, both in Pasadena, CA. Bethany has a Ph.D. and M.S. in Geological Sciences from Brown University, an M.S. in both Geography and Environmental Change and Management from the University of Oxford (where she was a Rhodes Scholar), and a B.A. in both Earth and Planetary Sciences and Environmental Studies from Washington University in St. Louis. Before obtaining her current position at Caltech/JPL, Bethany was a Marie Curie Fellow at the Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale in Paris. Bethany’s research interests are in environmental change, remote analysis of rocks and soils on planetary surfaces, and space policy. She is particularly interested in the geologic history of Mars and the causes of environmental change on that planet. Read more.
For the first time, I was SOWG Chair for a 2-sol planning session on Saturday. Earlier this month, the MSL project stopped scheduling tactical operations on Sundays, to give the team a break once a week. So we’ve been planning 2 sols at a time on Saturdays, which can be challenging, but it went pretty well this time. The focus continues to be on Chemin and SAM analysis of the first drill sample, and we look forward to hearing the results of these analyses soon. We were also able to add a few DAN and Mastcam observations, again limited by battery power.
I was happy to see that first drill sample was successfully acquired on Sol 182, as shown in one of the MAHLI images I helped plan. The whole team is very excited about this news!
A NASA spacecraft is providing new evidence of a wet underground environment on Mars that adds to an increasingly complex picture of the Red Planet’s early evolution. The new information comes from researchers analyzing spectrometer data from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which looked down on the floor of McLaughlin Crater. The Martian crater is 57 miles (92 kilometers) in diameter and 1.4 miles (2.2 kilometers) deep. McLaughlin’s depth apparently once allowed underground water, which otherwise would have stayed hidden, to flow into the crater’s interior. Read more.