Ryan’ s Sol 1661-1663 Update: DAN has been busy

8 April 2017 – Our drive away from the “Ogunquit Beach” sand dune location went well, taking us about 35 meters to the southwest and putting us in a good location to continue measuring the composition of the bedrock as we drive up Mt. Sharp. The Sol 1661 plan starts out with a Mastcam mosaic of “Old Speck Mountain” and some Navcam cloud detection observations. ChemCam will then analyze the targets “Blueberry Mountain,” “Brewer Mountain,” and “Mud Hole” with Mastcam documentation images for each target. I also requested some long distance ChemCam images of a cliff face on Mt. Sharp. I wasn’t able to participate in planning today, so we will see if the instructions I left the uplink team were correct!

Once the remote sensing is done, MAHLI will take some pictures of the targets “Paradise Hill” and “Treasure Island”. APXS will then analyze both targets, with an overnight analysis of Treasure Island. On Sol 1662 we will drive again, followed by an autonomously targeted ChemCam observation, and on sol 1663 Curiosity will have a pretty easy day, with some Mastcam atmospheric dust measurements and a MARDI image of the ground beneath the rover.

Throughout this week, the environmental science group has been working to recover the activities that were lost last weekend because of the Deep Space Network outage, such as the morning imaging suite and 15-frame Navcam dust devil movie, while also continuing the normal cadence of monitoring activities. Earlier in the week, a special DAN active measurement was acquired over the sand of “Ogunquit Beach”. By turning the rover in place and backing up onto the dune, we placed the field of view of DAN’s active neutron experiment, which is centered between the rear two wheels, right on the dune sand. DAN active experiments are performed after each rover position change (usually immediately after a drive), but in this case, the measurement was taken just before the rover departed Ogunquit Beach. In a DAN active measurement, neutrons are fired in all directions by the Pulse Neutron Generator, and some neutrons scattered by the soil under the rover return to the DAN detectors. This measurement will allow DAN to compare the amount of hydrogen measured at Namib Dune around sol 1243 to the conditions at Ogunquit Beach.

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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