Ken’s Sol 747 Update: Pahrump Hill Mosaic

11 September 2014 – The Sol 746 drive put the rover in a good location for imaging the terrain ahead, which looks good for a long drive on Sol 747. The Sol 746 data did not hit the ground until after 11:00 PDT (as expected), so today is another “rapid traverse” planning sol and the time available for science observations is therefore more limited than usual. Because the view of the bright “Pahrump Hills” outcrop is good from our current location, Mastcam stereo mosaics of Pahrump Hills and other features of interest are planned for the morning of Sol 747. The Pahrump Hills mosaic should be useful in planning investigations of this nice outcrop of the rocks that form the base of Mt. Sharp.

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 746 Update: NASA Teleconference

10 September 2014 – The Sol 744 drive went as planned (32 meters), and another drive is planned for Sol 746. Because we can’t see the terrain immediately beyond the small saddle dubbed “Jubilee Pass,” the rover will drive about 9 meters into the saddle, then take images of the other side. But first, ChemCam and Mastcam will observe targets dubbed “Anvil Spring Canyon,” “Epaulet Peak,” and “Copper Queen.” After the drive, another ChemCam “blind” observation of the surface to the right of the rover is planned.

Back here on Earth, there will be a teleconference tomorrow to discuss the status of the mission and the upcoming science campaign. Please tune in!

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.

Ryan’s Sol 745 Update: Untargeted Science

09 September 2014 – We have not received any data from sol 744 yet, so sol 745 is a simple day of untargeted remote sensing. ChemCam has an observation of the sky (with the laser off) to measure the gases in the atmosphere, and a “blind” LIBS observation off to the right of the rover. Mastcam will take a context image for the ChemCam blind observation so we can tell what we shot, and will also make some “tau” observations of the sun to measure how much dust is in the atmosphere. We will also do standard DAN and REMS environmental monitoring.

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 744 Update: Driving in Amargosa Valley

08 September 2014 – The weekend plan was successful: we got good data from the Homewood contact science target, plus a nice long 92.6 meter drive on Sol 743. The plan for Sol 744 is to do routine wheel imaging, plus Mastcam mosaics of a mesa in front of the rover named “Jubilee Pass,” and a mosaic of the north and south walls of Amargosa Valley. ChemCam will be zapping two targets named “Butte Valley” and “Antelope Valley,” and there will be supporting Mastcam images of those targets too. Navcam will be taking a movie watching for clouds above Mount Sharp.

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.

Ken’s Sol 741-743 Update: Busy Weekend

05 September 2014 – The weekend plan is very ambitious, with a bunch of targeted remote science observations on Sol 741, contact science on Sol 742, and a long drive on Sol 743. It has been a busy day for me as SOWG Chair, partly because our favorite contact science target was too difficult to reach with the arm instruments and we had to scramble to find another target that was both reachable and scientifically interesting. We settled on a target dubbed “Homewood,” which will be examined by MAHLI and APXS. We now have a good view of the path into Amargosa Valley, so we expect to make good progress on Sol 743.

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 732-734 Update: Multi-sol Planning

28 August 2014 – Yesterday we did not receive as much data as expected, so could not drive as originally planned. Therefore, the Sol 732 plan was dominated by targeted ChemCam and Mastcam observations of “Lippincott,” “Hall Canyon,” and “Keeler Canyon.” Today we received all the data needed to plan a nice drive, plus MastCam and ChemCam observations of a target dubbed “Red Pass” on Sol 733. We are planning 2 sols today to get a head start on the long weekend plan. On Sol 734, ChemCam will take spectra of the sky during the day, then SAM will sample the atmosphere overnight. The goal of these observations is to compare the atmospheric chemistry measured by the two instruments.

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 731 Update: Large Crater Ahead

25 August 2014 – Curiosity is back to driving! We are taking the high road around Hidden Valley to avoid potentially deep ripple fields, and making our way towards a large crater. This image from Sol 729 shows the crater just ahead of us. The Sol 731 plan includes a drive to the rim of the crater and some ChemCam and Mastcam observations to characterize the local geology. In the pre-drive targeted science block, Curiosity will investigate targets named “Beck Spring,” “Eagle Mountain,” “Furnace Creek,” and “Rainstorm.” After the drive we will acquire our standard post-drive imaging and some systematic observations. Tomorrow is a soliday (a day without planning to allow Earth and Mars schedules to sync back up), so there will be no blog, but the sol 732 blog will be posted the following day.

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 728-730 Update: Driving Again

22 August 2014 – After much study and discussion, the MSL team decided not to attempt to drill again into the rocks in front of the rover. On Sol 728, ChemCam and Mastcam will observe several nearby targets and the observation tray on the rover. The Sol 729 plan is dominated by the drive, with a single set of MAHLI wheel images. After the drive, on Sol 730, multiple instruments will observe the sky, ChemCam will shoot blind at the surface to the right of the rover, and MARDI will acquire another image during twilight. All of the MAHLI and MARDI activities are pretty standard, so it was an easy planning day for me as MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead.

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 727 Update: Stellar Observations

21 August 2014 – While we wait for data acquired on Sol 726 to be received later tonight, the Sol 727 plan includes only remote sensing observations. Mastcam and ChemCam will observe both nearby and distant targets during the day, then will attempt to observe some stars after dusk. The goal of the star imaging is to determine how accurately the instruments can be pointed, to support planning for potential observations of comet Siding Spring when it passes very close to Mars in October. An additional benefit, if these stellar observations are successful, is that the data will be useful for checking the radiometric calibration of the cameras.

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 726 Update: Busy Uplink

20 August 2014 – We were hoping that the Sol 726 plan would include full drilling of the Bonanza King target, but the downlink from Sol 724 showed that the mini-drill activity did not complete successfully, probably because the rock moved during drilling. Planning is still restricted, so the Sol 725 plan had not yet been sent to the spacecraft when the Sol 724 data were received. After much discussion, we decided to send the Sol 725 plan to the rover, recognizing that some of the ChemCam LIBS observations would be precluded by software because the arm will be in the way. We also decided to retract the drill and take all of the MAHLI and all of the other imaging data of the mini-drill hole that were originally planned for Sol 724 but were not acquired after the drilling was aborted. So it was a busy day for me and the other people scheduled to support MAHLI uplink!

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.

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