Ryan’s Sol 1470-1472 Update: Change of Plans

23 September 2016 – Our drive went nicely and we are already about halfway to our next drill site! Our original plan to head toward an outcrop called “Karasburg” had to be changed because it turned out to be covered in sand and not very steep, making it a less-desirable science target. So instead we are heading toward a location where (we hope) the stratigraphy will be better-exposed.

For this weekend’s plan, we start out on sol 1470 with a Navcam dust devil search and atmospheric observation, plus ChemCam of the targets “Chiagne”, “Chibemba”, and “Chibanda”. Mastcam will document those three targets, as well as the location of the automated ChemCam observation that was collected after yesterday’s drive. Mastcam also has three mosaics: a 6×3 of the Karasburg outcrop, a 4×1 of a location called “Longojo”, and a 5×2 extension of the drive direction mosaic.

On Sol 1471, we will do a wheel checkup with MAHLI and then drive, followed by the usual post-drive imaging. On Sol 1472 we have another AEGIS automated ChemCam observation, a couple of Mastcam atmospheric observations, and ChemCam calibration targets.

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.

Ken’s Sol 1469 Update: Leaving Murray Buttes

22 September 2016 – MSL drove over 87 meters on Sol 1468, toward an outcrop named “Karasburg.” The Sol 1469 plan includes another drive toward Karasburg, after ChemCam and Mastcam sample a local bedrock target named “Cacolo” and a patch of brighter material dubbed “Malembo.” Mastcam will also acquire mosaics of the Karasburg area both before and after the drive. Following the typical post-drive activities, AEGIS will again be used to autonomously select a ChemCam target and acquire chemical and imaging data. While the Murray Buttes were spectacular and interesting, it’s good to be back on the road again, as there is much more of Mt. Sharp to explore!

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 1467-1468 Update: Finishing up at Quela

20 September 2016 – The activities planned for Sol 1466 are going well so far–the only problem is that the ChemCam observation of the Quela drill hole wall is slightly out of focus. So we’ll try again on Sol 1467 with slightly modified ChemCam command parameters. We’re planning two sols today, and our top priority is to finish up our investigation of the Quela drill hole and tailings before driving away. There are a lot of measurements we’d like to make here, so it was a rather busy day for me as SOWG Chair. After retracting and stowing the arm to allow remote sensing observations of the Quela area, the Right Mastcam will image the imprint of the APXS contact sensor in the drill tailings, to determine exactly where the APXS was placed. Mastcam will also image the unsieved sample dump pile through all filters and measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere (a “Mastcam tau”) by imaging the Sun. Then ChemCam will go to work, acquiring passive spectra of the dump pile and active LIBS observations of the drill hole/tailings, a vein target named “Sumbe,” and Goantagab again to look for changes. The Right Mastcam will then acquire a 5×8 mosaic of the right side of the butte in front of the rover and take pictures of the ChemCam targets. Another Mastcam tau is scheduled late in the afternoon, followed by CheMin and SAM engineering activities. Mastcam will measure dust in the atmosphere again on the morning of Sol 1468, and Navcam will search for clouds overhead. A ~90-meter drive is planned during the middle of the day, followed by the usual post-drive imaging to set us up for the next plan.

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 1466 Update: A new drill hole

19 September 2016 – The second attempt to drill into Quela was successful, but there was a timing issue during sample manipulation in CHIMRA that resulted in premature halting of the Sol 1465 sequence. So on Sol 1466 we’ll pick up where MSL stopped and sieve the new sample, dump the unsieved fraction, and drop some of the sieved sample into CheMin. But first, ChemCam will acquire passive spectra of the Quela drill tailings and use its laser to measure the chemistry of the wall of the new drill hole and of bedrock targets “Camaxilo” and “Okakarara.” Right Mastcam images of these targets are also planned. After sunset, MAHLI will use its LEDs to take images of the drill hole from various angles and of the CheMin inlet to confirm that the sample was successfully delivered. Finally, the APXS will be placed over the drill tailings for an overnight integration.

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 1463-1465 Update: Trying Again

16 September 2016 – After doing the drill diagnostics, the team has decided to try drilling at Quela again over the weekend. Sol 1463 will start with ChemCam of some pebbles called “Omusati” and some veins called “Didimbo”. Mastcam will document both targets, and then do a tau measurement to determine how much dust is in the atmosphere. After that, the rover will use MAHLI to take a selfie at our current scenic location. In the afternoon on Sol 1463, Navcam will take some images to help with targeting, and Mastcam and Navcam will continue the photometry experiment from yesterday’s plan. Mastcam also has a change detection observation and Navcam will watch for clouds overhead. We will wrap up the busy day with MAHLI of the pebbles at “Ombomboli”.

Sol 1464 will be devoted to drilling and related imaging. Sol 1465 ChemCam has some passive calibration target measurements, plus an RMI of the drill hole. Mastcam will also take a look at the drill hole, using the full suite of multispectral filters.

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 1462 Update: Drill Troubleshooting and Remote Sensing

16 September 2016 – Unfortunately the Sol 1461 drilling activities did not complete as expected, so the Sol 1462 plan was focused on trying to understand the problem while also doing some remote sensing. The plan starts off with Mastcam multispectral observations of the target “Ekunha” on the nearby butte. ChemCam will analyze the targets “Cuasa” and “Cuimba”, and then Mastcam will document those targets and take an 8×3 mosaic of the butte, along with a change detection observation at “Goantagab”.

In the afternoon, Mastcam has a mosaic of the target “Karasburg” to help with planning contact science, and then in the morning of Sol 1463 Mastcam has another mosaic of the nearby butte, under different lighting, and Navcam has at atmospheric measurement. Throughout the whole plan, there are also a number of joint Navcam and Mastcam photometry observations of the same location at different times of day to help understand how sunlight scatters off the surface.

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 1461 Update: Time to drill

14 September 2016 – It’s always an exciting day on Mars when you prepare to drill another sample – an engineering feat that we’ve become so accustomed to that I sometimes forget how impressive this really is! Today’s plan just looks like a “typical” drill sol. First we’ll image the intended drill target with MAHLI, then we’ll do a full drill of the target “Quela”, followed by more documentation imaging with MAHLI. We’ll also acquire a ChemCam RMI image of the drill hole to help with upcoming targeting of the hole. Then the sample will be transferred to the scoop for inspection. Drilling is a pretty power-hungry activity, so there are no additional science observations in this plan, but we’re hoping to have more time for science tomorrow. In the meantime, we have plenty of new beautiful images to analyze.

Fingers crossed for another successful drill hole on Mars!

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 1460 Update: Preparing to drill

13 September 2016 – Yesterday was sol 2 of the drill campaign at “Quela” and we did a lot of great remote sensing, contact science and wheel imaging (see the above RMI image showing fine lamination in some pebbles, and the MAHLI image of the wheels to monitor their health). Today’s plan includes a science block and cross-contamination experiment to prepare for the drill sample. Science activities include a Mastcam multispectral observation of a block of Stimson sandstone, ChemCam RMI images of the layering in the butte, and ChemCam LIBS to assess the composition of the pebbles. If all goes well we should be ready to go for the full drill hole 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.

Lauren’s Sol 1459 Update: Characterizing the Marimba dump pile

12 September 2016 – Over the weekend, Curiosity completed analyses of the “Marimba” drill sample (our previous drill target), and dumped the post-sieve sample. Today’s plan is focused on MAHLI and APXS of the dump pile, and MAHLI imaging of the CheMin inlet to prepare for drill activities at our current location at “Quela.” The plan also includes a number of remote sensing observations. We’ll start with several atmospheric monitoring activities, including a Navcam movie and Mastcam tau. Then we’ll acquire a Mastcam multispectral observation on the “Quela” DRT spot. After two ChemCam passive observations of the “Marimba” dump pile and “Quela” DRT spot, we’ll acquire ChemCam LIBS on the targets “Eenhana” and “Ombomboli” to characterize the Murray bedrock and pebbles. Then we’ll take several Mastcam mosaics to document the color, texture, grain size, and sedimentary structures in the nearby rocks.

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.

Ryan’s Sol 1456-1458 Update: Settling in at Quela

09 September 2016 – We had a successful drive yesterday, and Curiosity is now parked at our next drill site, called “Quela”, right at the base of one of the Murray Buttes. The Sol 1456 plan starts with a Mastcam atmospheric observation, followed by ChemCam and Mastcam of “Quela” and a Mastcam mosaic of the workspace. After that, samples of “Marimba” will be dropped off in SAM for analysis.

On Sol 1457 Mastcam has another tau, and we will dump out the remaining Marimba sample and take some pictures of it. After that Curiosity will brush the dust off of Quela, with MAHLI images before and after, and APXS will do an overnight analysis.

In the morning on Sol 1458, Navcam, Mastcam, and ChemCam have a series of atmospheric observations. These will be followed by Mastcam multispectral observations of the Marimba dump pile, and another ChemCam passive sky and Mastcam tau. ChemCam will also analyze a block of Stimson material called “Uutapi”. Mastcam will document Uutapi and take a mosaic of some other blocks of rock that have fallen off the butte, collectively called “Cuimba”.

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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