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2 August 2015

Sols 1061-1063: Sample dropoff to CheMin

This morning, the MSL operations team was very happy to see that drilling into Buckskin was successful!  The weekend plan therefore has more arm activities, including transferring the sample to the scoop for inspection.  But first, the ChemCam RMI will take pictures of the new drill hole and Mastcam will image a potential location for eventually dumping the sample.  The sample will be sieved and a portion of the fine-grained …


30 July 2015

Sol 1060: GO for drilling!

By Lauren Edgar It’s another exciting day on Mars!  Curiosity is investigating some high-silica targets at an outcrop named “Lion.”  The team selected the “Buckskin” target to drill, and we successfully completed a mini drilling test yesterday (shown in the above MAHLI image).  That means that today we’re going for the FULL drill hole. Today’s plan is focused on the drilling activity, and a lot of imaging to document the …


29 July 2015

Sol 1059: Drill Testing and Analyzing "Ch-paa-qn"

Today the main event is a “mini-start hole”, which is the name for a new type of initial drilling test that we are trying out on the target “Buckskin”. This test will drill a small hole in the rock to help determine whether it is safe to go ahead with the full hole. In addition to that test, we are planning a detailed study of the target “Ch-paa-qn” which means …


28 July 2015

Sol 1057-1058: Getting Ready to Drill Buckskin

The “bump” over the weekend was successful, so we are right where we want to be to attempt drilling at “Buckskin” in the “Lion” area. I was on duty as ChemCam sPUL (science payload uplink lead) today, and it was a fun day to be on duty. Sometimes it can be stressful trying to make sure that all the settings are correct and that the instrument will be safe, but …


26 July 2015

Sol 1055-1056: Closing in on High-Silica Targets

The main priority in today’s plan is to nudge the rover a bit closer to the target “Buckskin”, which is in the area where we have discovered rocks high in silica and hydrogen. But before we do that, ChemCam and Mastcam will observe the targets “Marent”, “Pilcher”, and “Twinkle”, all of which may also have high silica. Navcam will also search for dust devils and do some atmospheric monitoring. On …


22 July 2015

Sols 1051-1054: Approaching "Lion"

After driving just over 20 meters, the rover stopped 4.4 meters short of the Sol 1049 drive goal because the vehicle pitch exceeded the 15-degree limit set by the rover drivers.  So another 6.4-meter drive toward the bright outcrop of interest, dubbed “Lion,” was planned for Sol 1051.  That  drive completed successfully, providing a good view of the outcrop.  ChemCam and Mastcam observed the sand ripple “Agency” and bedrock target …


20 July 2015

Sols 1048-1050: Test drill and drive

  The Sol 1046 wheel imaging completed nominally, and the rover is a little over 1 meter from its previous location.  So the outcrop to the right of the vehicle is still close enough for ChemCam LIBS measurements, and I helped select new targets again today.  The Sol 1048 plan includes ChemCam and Mastcam observations of “Pinto,” “Palomino,” and “Burnt Point” plus a Navcam search for clouds toward the north.  …


17 July 2015

Sols 1046-1047: Wheel imaging

  The 8.5-meter Sol 1044 drive completed as planned, leaving the rover in a relatively flat and smooth area that is suitable for imaging of the wheels.  Wheel imaging is done periodically to assess wear, and it’s time to acquire new data, so the Sol 1046 includes 5 sets of MAHLI, Mastcam, and MARDI images separated by short rover bumps to allow the entire surfaces of the wheels to be …


14 July 2015

Sol 1044-1045: Finishing the Drive

The drive over the weekend stopped a bit early (~17 meters instead of the intended ~25 meters) because the software that the rover uses to monitor its drive progress was being extra cautious. The rover is fine, and in the sol 1044 plan we will keep driving. Before the drive, ChemCam has observations of targets of varying textures named “Edith”, “Sheffer”, and “Finley”. Mastcam will take some documentation images of …


13 July 2015

Sols 1041-1043: Busy weekend planned

The rover bumped back 33 cm on Sol 1039, placing all 6 wheels on firm ground and allowing contact science on the bright rocks near the top of the slope in front of the vehicle. So the weekend plan is a full one, including both contact science and a drive back toward the southwest.  First, on Sol 1041, ChemCam will passively (no laser) acquire spectra of the sky and a rock …


10 July 2015

Sols 1039-1040: Livin’ on the Edge

  I’m MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead today, and was ready this morning to plan lots of MAHLI imaging of the bright rocks on the slope the rover first climbed on Sol 991.  But the data received after the 5.5-meter drive on Sol 1037 showed that the left front wheel is perched right at the top of a small scarp at the top of the slope.  After examining all the data, the …


7 July 2015

Sols 1037-1038: Familiar Terrain

  By Lauren Edgar Over the weekend holiday plan, Curiosity drove back to our location on Sol 992. Previous DAN and ChemCam data from this site showed some interesting results, so we want to investigate this region in more detail.  The front Hazcam image above shows our wheel tracks from the last time we were here, and some of the bright outcrop that we want to study further. Today’s two-sol …


6 July 2015

Sol 1033-1036: Independence Day Planning!

To paraphrase our SOWG chair’s paraphrasing of the Declaration of Independence at the start of today’s SOWG meeting: “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to plan a 4 sol plan, we assemble a group of patriots to make that plan. And that’s what we did today!” Today I was back on duty as KOP and Ken was on duty for ChemCam science. As usual, it was …


2 July 2015

Sol 1032: Lots of Contact Science!

Phew! Today was a busy day on Mars! Ken and I were both on operations today, picking up where Lauren left off yesterday. Ken was helping with ChemCam science in the geology and mineralogy (GeoMin) theme group, and I was the GeoMin Keeper of the Plan (KOP). We started off the day admiring the beautiful images from the sol 1031 “dog’s-eye view” mosaic of the ledge near the target “Missoula”. …


1 July 2015

Sol 1031: A Dog’s Eye View at Missoula

  By Lauren Edgar  Today we planned some MAHLI imaging along the contact near the “Missoula” target (the ledge in the upper left portion of this Navcam image).  We refer to it as a dog’s eye mosaic, meaning that we use the MAHLI camera to take a series of images along a vertical face – essentially sticking our nose in there to get a good view.  Hopefully it will provide …


30 June 2015

Sol 1030: Bumping to Missoula

  By Lauren Edgar Curiosity is still investigating the contact between the Pahrump and Stimson units.  Over the weekend, Curiosity acquired MAHLI images on a coarse-grained rock named “Big Arm” (above).  The goal today is to characterize some of the veins that occur above and below the contact, and then bump towards a target named “Missoula” to assess the contact at that location.  The plan today includes ChemCam observations of …


28 June 2015

Sols 1027-1029: Resuming tactical operations

  Mars has passed through solar conjunction, and reliable communication with the spacecraft at Mars is possible again.  As planning started this morning, we were still waiting for more data to be relayed by the orbiters to confirm that MSL is ready to resume science planning, but proceeded with tactical planning so that we would be ready when the data arrived.  The Sol 1027 plan starts with Mastcam observations of …


2 June 2015

Sols 1003-1004: Last tactical planning before solar conjunction

Today is the last day of MSL tactical operations until after solar conjunction, so this will probably be the last MSL update for a few weeks.  Ryan Anderson and I are both on shift as payload uplink lead today, but because the instruments we’re representing (ChemCam and MAHLI/MARDI, respectively) are already standing down in preparation for conjunction, our efforts have been focused on planning for the resumption of activities after …


31 May 2015

Sol 1000-1002: Photometry

  by Ken Herkenhoff We’re planning 3 sols of MSL activities today, starting with Sol 1000!  As we continue to prepare for solar conjunction, arm motion is allowed in this plan, but no contact science.  The plan starts with ChemCam and Mastcam observations of a platy rock called “Newland” and a Navcam search for dust devils.  Then the first of several Mastcam/Navcam photometry observations is planned.  The goal of these …


28 May 2015

Sol 999: Last MAHLI images before conjunction

by Ken Herkenhoff Today is the last day we can plan MAHLI activities before the operational stand-down for solar conjunction, to ensure that we have time to confirm that MAHLI’s dust cover is safely closed.  So we worked to include as many MAHLI images as possible in the Sol 999 plan, making for a rather hectic day for me as MAHLI uplink lead.  The plan includes a full set of …