Ryan’s Sol 1405-1408 Update: Bimbe conglomerates

20 July 2016 – After a busy weekend plan, we are back to “restricted” sols this week, planning two days at a time. Monday’s planning for sols 1405-1406 started off with a discussion of whether we wanted to do some brief contact science before driving, or just drive straight for the block deposit called “Bimbe”.

In the end, we decided to keep the contact science in the plan, so sol 1405 included some MAHLI imaging of the target “Guri”. Mastcam had a multispectral observation of Guri as well as “Galo” to look for evidence of hematite. Mastcam also had an observation of an outcrop of possible conglomerate rock. ChemCam had measurements of the bedrock targets “Cela” and “Dala”.

After that we drove toward Bimbe. On sol 1406, we had a Navcam atmospheric observation and a ChemCam AEGIS target. I also advocated for a long-distance RMI mosaic on sol 1406 to make up for the one that was lost when the rover went into safe mode, but the orientation of the rover after the drive made it difficult so it ended up being pulled. (It would have caused ChemCam to slew past the path of the sun in the sky while focused, and we like to avoid any risk of pointing the telescope at the sun). So I’ll have to advocate for that observation some other time.

The sol 1406 drive went perfectly, so this morning we found ourselves in an awesome place to study the blocks and conglomerates at “Bimbe”. Sol 1407 starts with ChemCam observations of the targets “Lucala”, “Cabamba”, and “Bungo”, followed by a Mastcam stereo mosaic of the Bimbe rocks. MAHLI then has several observations of the workspace and a closer look at the target “Sonneblom”, and APXS has an overnight observation of Sonneblom.

On Sol 1408, we have a morning block of atmospheric observations from NavCam and Mastcam, followed by a Mastcam multispectral observation of the target “Tumba” and stereo mosaics of the southern part of Bimbe as well as some rocks in an area called “Balombo”. ChemCam will also observe Sonneblom and Balombo.

Ryan Anderson is a planetary scientist and developer 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.

Lauren’s Sol 1402-1404 Update: A juicy weekend plan

15 July 2016 – It was a slow morning as we anxiously awaited our downlink at 11am this morning… and then we put together a hefty weekend plan. We’re in late slide sols this week, so planning has been starting later to wait for critical images to come down. I’m on duty as GSTL today, and we knew it would be a big plan going in to the weekend. Once we confirmed that the ~26 m drive went well on Sol 1401, our first task was to evaluate the local bedrock and select a target for contact science. We selected a target named “Uku” for ChemCam, Mastcam, MAHLI and APXS activities to assess the texture and composition of the Murray formation. We also planned a ChemCam observation on the target “Songo,” a disturbed block which looks more red than some of the surrounding rocks. The plan also includes some Mastcam mosaics of the “Bimbe” blocky deposit to see if we want to pursue some additional observations there next week. Then we had to see if these activities would fit with an already full weekend plan. On the first and third sols we’re planning to do some environmental monitoring observations coordinated with observations from the MAVEN spacecraft. This will give us a great dataset from the ground looking up, and from orbit looking down. As if the plan wasn’t busy enough, we’re also planning some MAHLI imaging of the CheMin inlet, and a SAM geochronology experiment. Not surprisingly, this is a very power-hungry plan, so we had to trim down some activities during the SOWG meeting. But we managed to get almost everything into the plan, and have set ourselves up for the possibility of more contact science on Monday. Should be a fun weekend in Gale crater!

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 1401 Update: Analysis of block deposits

14 July 2016 – The drive on Sol 1400 went well, and Curiosity drove ~13 m along the edge of the blocky deposit “Bimbe.” Today’s plan involves a number of ChemCam and Mastcam observations to assess the composition and textural properties of three large blocks in the deposit. We’ll also acquire a Mastcam mosaic to document the eastern edge of the deposit, and a Navcam observation to search for dust devils. Then Curiosity will continue driving to the southwest, followed by standard post-drive imaging. I’ll be on duty as GSTL tomorrow so I’m looking forward to 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 1400 Update: Approaching the “Bimbe” blocky deposit

13 July 2016 – On Sol 1399, Curiosity drove ~32 m closer to a blocky deposit known as “Bimbe.” We’ve identified several notable blocky deposits in orbital images, and this will be our last chance to fully investigate one of these deposits on the ground to try to determine their origin. Today’s plan starts with some Mastcam mosaics to characterize laminations in the Murray bedrock, and to document the “Bimbe” region. We’ll also study “Bimbe” with ChemCam at a target named “Auchab.” Additionally, the morning science block includes some systematic atmospheric monitoring with Mastcam. Today’s drive will hopefully put us about ~20 m closer to the “Bimbe” deposit, and will be followed by post-drive imaging for targeting. The plan also includes an autonomously-selected ChemCam target. We’re in late slide sols this week, so it’s been nice getting to start a few hours later in the day… though I’m sure our team members in other parts of the world are ready for sleep!

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 1399 Update: On the road again

12 July 2016 – We’re back in our familiar drive pattern, with a short science block followed by a drive. In today’s pre-drive science block, ChemCam and Mastcam will be used to study the target “Arandis” to document the chemistry of the local bedrock. Then we’ll acquire several Mastcam mosaics to study some blocky deposits and document laminations in the Murray formation. A drive of ~45 m is planned, followed by post-drive imaging for targeting. Curiosity will wake up early the next morning for some environmental monitoring and searching for dust devils. We were pretty tight on data volume today so we had to trim down the plan a little bit, but that’s why we prioritize our activities so carefully.

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 1398 Update: Back in action

11 July 2016 – After standing down from science operations for a few sols to resolve the safe mode anomaly, it’s great to be on the move again today. The Sol 1398 plan begins with a short science block, which includes ChemCam and Mastcam observations of the target “Luanda” to assess the chemistry of the local bedrock. We’ll also acquire several Mastcam mosaics to characterize some blocky deposits and stratification within the Murray formation. Then Curiosity will drive for ~76 m and acquire post-drive imaging for targeting. In the afternoon there is another short science block, which includes Navcam and Mastcam observations to monitor the atmosphere. Overnight, Curiosity will do the final CheMin analysis of the Oudam drill sample. The plan also includes some additional flight software diagnostics, but it’s great to be back on the road and stretching our legs (rover wheels?) again. For more information on the anomaly and return to operations, check out this recent press release.

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.

Curiosity Update: Safe Mode

06 July 2016 – The activities planned for Sols 1387 and 1388 completed successfully, and lots of good data were returned including a stunning Right Mastcam panorama of the “Murray Buttes” toward the southwest. One of the images in this panorama shows a boulder that appears to be precariously balanced. No, we don’t plan to drive right up next to it, but we’ll probably get closer looks as the rover proceeds toward Mount Sharp.

Early on Sol 1389, the rover entered “safe mode”, apparently due to a software problem that is still not fully understood. So the 3-sol plan did not execute but the rover and all subsystems are healthy. Science planning has been suspended while critical engineering data are returned to Earth and studied by software experts at JPL. I’m SOWG Chair again today, with not much to do because of the anomaly, but I’m anxiously following the tactical team’s progress in recovering from safe mode.

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.

Sol 1389-1391 Update: Holiday Weekend, Good Luck Juno!

30 June 2016 – Today we put together a three sol plan to take us through the holiday weekend. On Sol 1389 we do contact science with APXS and MAHLI on the target “Outjo”. SAM also will begin an analysis of some of the “Mojave2” sample that was collected a while ago.

Sol 1390 starts off with a long science block. This was originally split into two blocks, but during planning we decided it would save some time to combine them. Mastcam starts the block off with a multispectral observation of the brushed target “Outjo”. Then ChemCam has a long distance RMI observation of Mt. Sharp, plus analyses of the targets “Outjo” and “Luanda”. After ChemCam, Mastcam turns back on, and has mosaics of “Bukalo” and “Bailundo” (blocky deposits), “Keetmanshoop” (an outcrop of Murray formation), and “Quimavongo” (a small crater). SAM will also continue its sample analysis.

On Sol 1391 we will drive for about 60 m and then collect post-drive imaging. And then in the early morning on Sol 1392, Navcam and Mastcam have a series of atmospheric observations.

While Curiosity is busy with all of that, and we are all celebrating the 4th of July, the Juno spacecraft will be arriving at Jupiter this weekend! Juno has been flying toward Jupiter for five years, so it’s exciting that it will finally be reaching its destination! Good luck Juno!

Ryan Anderson is a planetary scientist and developer 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.

Ryan’s Sol 1387-1388 Update: Limited Targeting Data

30 June 2016 – Our drive in the Sol 1385 plan took us 66 meters, continuing our path south between the “Baynes Mountains” and “Helgas Dune”. The plan for Sol 1386 starts off with APXS and MAHLI observations of the target “Trekkopje”, followed by a short science block. Mastcam will start off the block with some atmospheric measurements, then ChemCam will join in the fun and analyze Trekkopje too. Mastcam will document that observation and the AEGIS observation from Sol 1385, followed by a couple of small mosaics studying the rim of a nearby crater. Instead of driving, we will use MAHLI to do a check-up on our wheels in today’s plan.

Ryan Anderson is a planetary scientist and developer 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.

Ryan’s Sol 1386 Update: Studying Trekkopje, checking the wheels

29 June 2016 – Our drive in the Sol 1385 plan took us 66 meters, continuing our path south between the “Baynes Mountains” and “Helgas Dune”. The plan for Sol 1386 starts off with APXS and MAHLI observations of the target “Trekkopje”, followed by a short science block. Mastcam will start off the block with some atmospheric measurements, then ChemCam will join in the fun and analyze Trekkopje too. Mastcam will document that observation and the AEGIS observation from Sol 1385, followed by a couple of small mosaics studying the rim of a nearby crater. Instead of driving, we will use MAHLI to do a check-up on our wheels in today’s plan.

Ryan Anderson is a planetary scientist and developer 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.

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