Ryan’s Sol 794-795 Update: Beautiful Layers

Layering imaged by Curiosity's navcam (left) on Sol 792.

29 October 2014 – The 15.8 meter drive on Sol 792 was successful, bringing Curiosity right up to the Chinle outcrop, which has some beautiful layering. In the Sol 794 plan, we have ChemCam observations of four targets on the outcrop: “Cima,” “Sespe,” “Aguereberry Point,” and “Soledad Pass.” Mastcam will take a picture of Cima, and a high-resolution mosaic of Chinle. After that, Curiosity will drive toward “Whale Rock,” with the goal of getting in range so that ChemCam can zap it. During the drive we will again take MARDI images beneath the rover as it drives, as well as mid-drive and post-drive imaging with Mastcam and Navcam. On Sol 795, ChemCam and Mastcam will do some blind targeting and Navcam will search for dust devils.

Ryan Anderson is a member of the ChemCam team and the current Shoemaker Postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, AZ. Ryan also writes for the American Geophysical Union’s blogosphere in The Martian Chronicles.

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.

Ryan’s Sol 792-793 Update

27 October 2014 – I’ve been swamped with work for other projects recently, but those are behind me now, and I’m excited to get caught up on what Curiosity has been doing! The plan for Sol 792 has a nice big science block that we plan to fill with lots of targeted observations by ChemCam and Mastcam. ChemCam will analyze the target “Cajon” on the “Carnivore Canyon” outcrop and “Agate Hill” and “Aztec” targets on the “Alexander Hills” outcrop. ChemCam will also analyze the target “Crowder” right in front of the rover. Mastcam will take some supporting images of these targets, plus mosaics of “Zion Canyon”, “Tortoise Shell Mountain”, and a survey mosaic off the starboard side of the rover. Once all of the remote sensing is done, we are planning a drive toward the Chinle outcrop, during which MARDI will take time-lapse video of the terrain beneath the rover in order to create a continuous image strip along the path. The rover will also take some routine mid-drive and post-drive images. On Sol 793, ChemCam will make a passive observation of the sky and Navcam and Mastcam will also make some atmospheric observations.

Ryan Anderson is a member of the ChemCam team and the current Shoemaker Postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, AZ. Ryan also writes for the American Geophysical Union’s blogosphere in The Martian Chronicles.

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 789-791 Update: Approaching Alexander Hills

24 October 2014 – It was another fun day of operations as we planned Curiosity’s continued investigation of the Pahrump Hills. Ken Herkenhoff was the SOWG Chair and I was the Geology STL. The drive on Sol 787 placed Curiosity approximately 18 m from the Gilbert Peak outcrop, and 8 m from what is now named the “Alexander Hills” outcrop. This Navcam image from Sol 787 shows the Alexander Hills as a small cliff in the middle of the frame, and the Gilbert Peak outcrop as the thin dark beds a little higher up on the hill. The goal in the 3-sol weekend plan is to characterize the outcrop in front of us and drive closer to the Alexander Hills. The plan includes several ChemCam observations of the rock targets “Skyline,” “Barstow,” and “San Gabriel.” Curiosity will also acquire several high-resolution Mastcam mosaics to characterize the local geology. After the drive we’ll acquire standard post-drive imaging to prepare for targeted observations on Sol 792. The plan also includes several Navcam observations to monitor atmospheric activity. Looking ahead to next week, we will continue working our way up the Pahrump Hills toward the Chinle outcrop (an outcrop to the west of Gilbert Peak).

Lauren Edgar is an SESE Exploration Postdoctoral Fellow at Arizona State University. An archive of Lauren’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 787-788 Update: Drive to Gilbert Peak

22 October 2014 – It was a busy day of rover operations here at the USGS. Ken Herkenhoff was the Science Operations Working Group (SOWG) Chair and I was the Geology Science Theme Lead (STL). Today we planned two sols and the goal was to characterize the Book Cliffs outcrop and drive toward the “Gilbert Peak” outcrop. This Navcam image from Sol 785 shows our current location at Book Cliffs in the lower right part of the frame, and some beautiful ripples in the valley to the west. The Sol 787-788 plan includes a number of ChemCam and Mastcam observations of the targets “Goblin Valley,” “Deadman Pass,” and “Funeral Peak” (we picked names that also fit a Halloween theme!). We also planned some Mastcam mosaics to investigate the stratigraphy at Book Cliffs and some other upcoming outcrops. During the drive on Sol 787 we will acquire a series of MARDI and Mastcam images to document the geology along the traverse. The plan also includes postdrive imaging to prepare for targeting on Friday, as well as environmental observations to characterize the atmospheric opacity and composition. Ken and I will both be on duty again on Friday, and we’re looking forward to exploring the Gilbert Peak outcrop.

Lauren Edgar is an SESE Exploration Postdoctoral Fellow at Arizona State University. An archive of Lauren’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 785-786 Update: Comet Siding Spring

20 October 2014 – Over the weekend, a number of Mars spacecraft observed a rare encounter with comet Siding Spring. Curiosity successfully observed the comet with Mastcam, Navcam and ChemCam RMI. Today we’re planning two sols during which Curiosity will drive closer to the rock outcrop “Book Cliffs,” and perform some remote sensing. This is part of a bigger campaign to survey the Pahrump Hills. During the drive we will acquire a series of MARDI images to document the geology along the traverse. The plan also includes ChemCam observations of the targets “Ibex Pass,” “Hayden Peak,” and “Saddle Peak” with corresponding Mastcam images to characterize the local geology. After the drive we’ll acquire our standard post-drive imaging. The plan also includes several Navcam observations to monitor the atmosphere. I’ll be on duty as the Geology Science Theme Lead starting on Sol 787 so I’m getting up to speed on the current science plans and looking forward to exploring the Pahrump Hills!

Lauren Edgar is an SESE Exploration Postdoctoral Fellow at Arizona State University. An archive of Lauren’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 782-784 Update: Comet Observations

17 October 2014 – The experience I gained planning the MARDI drive “video” for Sol 780 helped me prepare for another MARDI video during the Sol 782 drive. I’m MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead again today, and got a good start on the video and post-drive MAHLI/MARDI observation planning. But concerns were raised about the safety of Sol 783 ChemCam observations of Comet Siding Spring after the Sol 782 drive, so the drive was deleted from the plan along with the associated MARDI and MAHLI imaging. While I was disappointed by this change of plans, I recognized the importance of the comet observations. Comet Siding Spring will be closer to Mars this weekend than any comet has approached Earth in historic times, and all the spacecraft at Mars will be observing this rare event. I look forward to seeing the results!

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 781 Update: Dumping Sample

16 October 2014 – The 22-meter Sol 780 drive completed as planned, placing the rover near “Book Cliffs” (visible at the right side of this image). Sol 781 planning was interrupted this morning by the “Great Shakeout” earthquake drill, but the tactical team recovered and stayed on schedule the rest of the day. After making ChemCam and Mastcam observations of “Delta,” “San Rafael Swell,” and “Castle Valley” (all named after places in Utah), the drill sample will be dumped onto the ground and CHIMRA cleaned out. Then the APXS will be placed on the dump pile for an overnight integration. Finally, before dawn on Sol 782, Mastcam will attempt observations of Comet Siding Spring and Mars’ satellites Phobos and Deimos.

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 780 Update: MARDI Video

15 October 2014 – We were originally planning to perform some arm tests on Sol 780 to help diagnose the fault that occurred last weekend, but it was decided that they were too risky. So a drive toward a target dubbed “Book Cliffs” was planned instead. During the drive, MARDI will acquire images of the surface just behind the left front wheel to show what the Pahrump Hills rocks look like all along the rover traverse. As MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead, I was busy today planning the details of this MARDI “video.” We also planned a MAHLI stowed image at the end of the drive, which is safe because no arm motions are involved.

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 779 Update: Using the Arm

14 October 2014 – The Sol 778 data show that the arm instruments are safe, and the arm is ready for more activities. MAHLI will not be used until the recent arm problems are better understood, to ensure that MAHLI’s lens does not get dirty if the dust cover is left open again. However, the APXS can be used, so the Sol 779 plan includes another attempt to measure the chemistry of “Morrison” (see Sol 767 blog). In addition, ChemCam and Mastcam will observe several targets at various distances from the rover. I’m scheduled as MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead tomorrow, so I’m spending some time today to get up to speed on the near-term plans.

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 767 Update: Dump Site

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01 October 2014 – Curiosity continues to investigate the Pahrump Hills outcrop. The Sol 767 plan includes MAHLI and APXS observations of the target Morrison, as well as MAHLI images of the drill hole and dump pile (the dump pile consists of the part of the drilled sample that did not make it through the 150-micron sieve). Today’s plan also includes ChemCam and Mastcam observations of the targets “Paoha,” “The Maze,” and “Quartz Spring,” to characterize the drill tailings and other rock features. There is also an atmospheric observation to look for clouds, along with standard RAD and REMS activities. In addition to the science observations, the Sol 767 plan includes SAM cup conditioning to prepare for upcoming SAM activities. Tomorrow will be a soliday, and then we are looking forward to upcoming SAM and CheMin activities.

Lauren Edgar is an SESE Exploration Postdoctoral Fellow at Arizona State University. An archive of Lauren’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.

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