Lauren’s Sol 1627-1629 Update: Driving again

03 March 2017 – Good news: the MAHLI cover was successfully opened and the instrument is marked healthy again. That means it’s time to close the cover, and if that’s successful, drive away toward the next stop in the Bagnold Dunes Campaign. I was the GSTL again and it was a pretty straightforward planning day. On the first sol, we’ll acquire ChemCam observations on “Swanback” and “Rangely” to assess the composition of a ripple crest and a bright patch of bedrock. We’ll also use Mastcam to image the rover deck to monitor the movement of fines. In the afternoon, we’ll close the MAHLI cover and run a few more diagnostics. The second sol starts with an early science block for environmental monitoring, including Navcam and Mastcam observations to look for clouds and monitor the amount of dust in the atmosphere. Later in the day we’ll use Navcam to search for dust devils. Then Mastcam will acquire a large mosaic of the stratigraphy exposed beneath the hematite ridge, and ChemCam will target “Thorofare” to assess the composition of veins in the local bedrock. We’ll also acquire a long distance ChemCam RMI mosaic to monitor the slope of Mt. Sharp and look for changes. Throughout the first and second sols, we’ll continue to take Mastcam images to monitor changes in sand movement. Then Curiosity will drive further to the south, and take post-drive imaging to prepare for targeting next week. The third sol is devoted to a few more environmental monitoring activities, an autonomously selected ChemCam target, and some ChemCam calibration activities. Looking forward to driving again and getting a new view!

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 1625-1626 Update: Change detection and additional remote sensing

01 March 2017 – We’re still at the second stop of the Bagnold Dune campaign, running a few more MAHLI diagnostics and focusing on targeted remote sensing. I was the GSTL today and it was still a pretty busy day for the GEO theme group. The first sol includes a ChemCam observation of a ripple crest (similar to the observation from Sol 1621 shown in the above Mastcam image) and a long distance RMI to look for changes on the slope of Mt. Sharp. We’ll also use Navcam to search for dust devils, and Mastcam will survey the color and opacity of the atmosphere. The second sol includes ChemCam observations of “Allagash” and “Hersey” to investigate some bedrock with interesting color variations. Mastcam and Navcam will also be used to monitor the atmosphere and search for dust devils. In the afternoon of both sols, APXS will continue to collect data for thermal characterization. Throughout the plan, we’ll repeat several Mastcam and MARDI images to monitor changes in sand movement. These change detection observations have produced a great dataset that shows some awesome ripple activity.

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 1623-1624 Update: MAHLI diagnostics and remote sensing

27 February 2017 – Today’s two-sol plan is devoted to MAHLI diagnostics and remote sensing. It’s another late slide sol, so planning started three and half hours later than usual. The plan kicks off with arm activities to better understand the fault that MAHLI experienced last week. Then ChemCam will investigate “Dunn Brook,” a target that is just above “Chase Brook” from the weekend plan, and is shown in the above Mastcam image. The target shows some interesting color variations so ChemCam will be used to investigate changes in composition. We’ll also acquire a ChemCam observation of “Leighton,” to study the coarse sand grains at the crest of a ripple. Then Navcam will look for dust devils and clouds, in response to orbital observations that suggest recent increasing atmospheric opacity. On the second sol, Mastcam will acquire a multispectral observation on “Dunn Brook,” and will be used to document the previous APXS locations at “Tomhegan” and “Waweig.” We’ll also acquire a Mastcam image for deck monitoring to assess the movement of fines, and an upper tier Navcam mosaic to enable us to target features on Mt. Sharp. The second sol includes a number of environmental monitoring observations, using both Mastcam and Navcam to monitor the color and opacity of the atmosphere and search for dust devils. The plan also includes an APXS thermal characterization test and a number of change detection observations.

For more on Curiosity’s recent findings, check out this 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.

Ryan’s Sol 1619 Update: Wrapping up dune stop #2

24 February 2017 – We are wrapping up our observations at stop #2 of the second Bagnold dunes campaign. In the Sol 1619 plan, we start off with Navcam and Mastcam atmospheric observations, followed by a ChemCam observation of the sandy target “Leighton”. Mastcam will then document Leighton and the autonomously identified ChemCam target from the post-drive science block on Sol 1617. Throughout the day, there will also be a number of repeated Mastcam change detection observations. Afterward, we’ll drive away toward stop #3 and collect our standard post-drive imaging.

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 1620-1622 Update: A weekend full of remote sensing

24 February 2017 – The drive on Sol 1617 went well, and Curiosity drove 20 m to the south, which put us in a good position for another stop at the Bagnold Dunes. This site was selected to enable comparison of the leading and trailing edges of the dunes. Today’s plan includes ChemCam observations of disturbed and undisturbed soil, at targets named “Tomhegan” and “Macworth.” We’ll also acquire a Mastcam multispectral observation on “Macworth,” along with systematic deck monitoring. A number of environmental monitoring activities are planned in the first science block, including two dust devil surveys, a Mastcam tau, and a crater rim extinction observation to monitor atmospheric opacity. In the afternoon we have three MAHLI targets planned: “Waweig” (undisturbed ripple crest), “Tomhegan” (undisturbed ripple flank) and “Seboomook” (disturbed sand). APXS will also acquire data on “Tomhegan,” with an overnight integration on “Waweig.” Throughout the plan, Mastcam will also perform several change detection experiments at two different locations to monitor sand movement. Looks like quite the day for investigating the Bagnold Dunes!

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 1618 Update: A second stop at the dunes

22 February 2017 – The drive on Sol 1617 went well, and Curiosity drove 20 m to the south, which put us in a good position for another stop at the Bagnold Dunes. This site was selected to enable comparison of the leading and trailing edges of the dunes. Today’s plan includes ChemCam observations of disturbed and undisturbed soil, at targets named “Tomhegan” and “Macworth.” We’ll also acquire a Mastcam multispectral observation on “Macworth,” along with systematic deck monitoring. A number of environmental monitoring activities are planned in the first science block, including two dust devil surveys, a Mastcam tau, and a crater rim extinction observation to monitor atmospheric opacity. In the afternoon we have three MAHLI targets planned: “Waweig” (undisturbed ripple crest), “Tomhegan” (undisturbed ripple flank) and “Seboomook” (disturbed sand). APXS will also acquire data on “Tomhegan,” with an overnight integration on “Waweig.” Throughout the plan, Mastcam will also perform several change detection experiments at two different locations to monitor sand movement. Looks like quite the day for investigating the Bagnold Dunes!

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.

Ken’s Sol 1617 Update: Re-attempt the drive

21 February 2017 – The drive planned for Sol 1616 halted early, apparently because the right rear wheel got stuck between two rocks. The mobility team concluded that it is safe to continue, so the drive planned for Sol 1617 is essentially the same as the previously-planned drive. Before the drive, ChemCam and Right Mastcam will observe a sand target named “New Sweden” and Right Mastcam will acquire mosaics of a layered bedrock outcrop dubbed “Hobbstown” and of the dunes that are the target of the drive. Mastcam will also measure dust in the atmosphere before the drive begins. After the drive and more testing of the drill, along with post-drive imaging to support planning on Wednesday, ChemCam will use AEGIS to select a target for chemical analysis.

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 1614-1616 Update: Delayed planning

17 February 2017 – The Sol 1612 drive went well, and there is a nice bedrock block in the arm workspace. We received a bit more data than expected before planning started, but not enough to finalize drive plans and contact science targets. As expected, we received more data during planning, including color images of the arm workspace that were very useful in selecting contact science targets. The late arrival of the necessary data caused delays in the standard uplink planning timeline, but the tactical team did a great job and we have an excellent weekend plan. It’s good to see REMS extended blocks back in the plan after the successful software upgrade.

On Sol 1614, ChemCam and Right Mastcam will observe bedrock targets named “Columbia Falls,” “Spider Lake,” and “Loon Stream.” Mastcam will measure dust in the atmosphere and acquire a 3×3 mosaic of a layered block dubbed “Aroostook River.” Late that afternoon, MAHLI will image the REMS UV sensor and acquire mosaics of another bedrock target named “Chain Lakes” and of Spider Lake. The APXS will then measure the chemistry of the Spider Lake area at overlapping locations to look for spatial variations in composition. Early the next morning, Mastcam will again measure dust in the atmosphere and Navcam will search for clouds. Later on Sol 1615, more drill diagnostic tests are planned, then the APXS will be placed on its calibration target for an overnight integration. A short drive to the dark dunes south of the rover is planned on Sol 1616, followed by unstowing the arm and post-drive imaging. Another busy (sometimes hectic) day for me as SOWG Chair!

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 1612-1613 Update: Planning challenges

16 February 2017 – After a 23-meter drive on Sol 1611, MSL again ended up in an area with many bedrock blocks partly covered by dark sand. We’re planning two sols today to get a head start on planning for the holiday weekend, with the first sol strategically planned to allow the “touch and go” option. But there’s a ridge about 30 meters ahead that we can’t see over, and we would like to be able to drive up onto it on Sol 1612 to allow a drive past it to be planned this weekend. There isn’t enough time before the “decisional” telecommunications opportunity to fit both contact science and a 30-meter drive into the plan, so we had to pick one of these two options. Based on images taken from orbit and by the rover, lots of bedrock is exposed at the crest of the ridge 30 meters away, so we picked the longer drive at the expense of contact science today, hoping that the rover will be in a better place for contact science this weekend. Before the drive, ChemCam and Right Mastcam will observe a bright/dark boundary on a block at the left side of the left image (dubbed “Frenchville”), and Right Mastcam will acquire a 2×2 mosaic of another block named “Third Lake.” After the drive, we’re planning fewer images to support weekend planning because the expected downlink data volume is much less than usual. We therefore spent more time than usual carefully prioritizing the post-drive images for downlink, and may not receive all of the data we need to plan contact science and a drive this weekend.

Later in the afternoon of Sol 1612, ChemCam will again use AEGIS to autonomously select a LIBS target and acquire a 3×3 set of chemical measurements. The REMS software upgrade went well, so REMS environmental monitoring is being planned again today! On Sol 1613, ChemCam will acquire passive calibration data, and Navcam will search for dust devils and clouds. Finally, the rover will sleep overnight in preparation for what we hope will be a busy weekend plan. The issues described above made for a challenging day for me as SOWG Chair!

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 1611 Update: Patch Mountain

15 February 2017 – MSL drove almost 27 meters on Sol 1610 to a location with several potential targets, so the planning team spent some time discussing priorities. A dark patch of bedrock, appropriately named “Patch Mountain” was chosen for ChemCam, Right Mastcam, and MAHLI observations. The MAHLI imaging was moved after the ChemCam observation so that the LIBS impact spots would be visible. An additional MAHLI image was added to the standard full suite, to provide a 3-image mosaic from 5 cm. Then the rover will drive again, and take images afterward to enable planning more activities on Sol 1612. Just before sunset, Navcam will search for dust devils and REMS will complete the second part of their flight software update.

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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