Ken’s Sol 1634-1635 Update: Back to nominal MAHLI planning

10 March 2017 – MSL drove about 29 meters toward the south on Sol 1632, and is in a good position for weekend activities. The MAHLI images taken on Sol 1632 look good, and the dust cover is working properly, so MAHLI is ready to return to nominal operations! The tactical planning team therefore selected contact science targets on a block right in front of the rover that shows interesting color variations. This bedrock block is too close to the rover to allow ChemCam data to be safely acquired, so a nearby exposure was selected for an analogous measurement and named “Hurricane Mountain.” I helped plan ChemCam observations today, and picked a nearly-vertical layered bedrock target that we called “Hardwood Mountain.” Right Mastcam will image these targets and take a 4×3 mosaic of another bedrock block dubbed “Rocky Mountain.” Mastcam will also acquire a multispectral set of images of “North Haven,” a collection of pebbles near Hurricane Mountain, and survey the sky in the afternoon. Then MAHLI will take 5 images of “Canada Falls” from various distances before the APXS is placed on the first of 3 closely-spaced Canada Falls targets. After sunset, APXS data will be gathered on all 3 spots, using the arm to reposition the instrument between integrations.

Early on Sol 1635, Navcam will search for clouds and Mastcam will measure the dust in the atmosphere. Later in the day, more drill diagnostic tests are planned, followed by another set of Mastcam dust observations. Then the rover will drive toward the nearby dune and acquire data that will be used to select a target for the next drive, which will hopefully position the rover well for contact science on the dune sand.

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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