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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”. …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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27 May 2015

Sol 998: Contact Science at Marias Pass

By Lauren Edgar A short bump on Sol 997 put Curiosity in a great position to investigate a few different rock units in Marias Pass, using the instruments on the rover’s arm.  The 2.5 m drive brings our total odometry to 10,599 m.  With the upcoming solar conjunction (Mars will be on the opposite side of the sun from the Earth, so we can’t communicate with the rover for most …

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Sol 997: Preparing for contact science

By Lauren Edgar Curiosity spent the weekend characterizing the terrain and bedrock exposed in Marias Pass.  Curiosity drove 33 m further into Marias Pass, bringing our total odometry to 10,596 m.   The drive set us up perfectly to investigate the contact between two different types of bedrock – the underlying Pahrump unit and the overlying Stimson unit. Today’s plan is focused on characterizing the contact in this new location, and …

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25 May 2015

Sols 993-996: A long weekend at Marias Pass

By Lauren Edgar  On Sol 992 Curiosity took a short drive into Marias Pass to get a better look at the terrain ahead.  The 6 m drive on Sol 992 brought our total odometry to 10,562 m.  It also put Curiosity in a great position for targeted science over the long holiday weekend. The 4 sol plan includes some large Mastcam mosaics to characterize the terrain and the contact between …

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22 May 2015

Sol 992: Marias Pass

By Lauren Edgar Curiosity conquered the hill on Sol 991, and we were rewarded with a beautiful view of Marias Pass.  The 22 meter drive on Sol 991 brings our total odometry to 10,556 meters. In today’s plan, Curiosity will acquire ChemCam and Mastcam observations on the targets “Elk” and “Bull” to characterize the bright bedrock and a nearby boulder.  We’ll also take several Mastcam mosaics to document the local …

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21 May 2015

Sol 991: Taking the high road

By Lauren Edgar After assessing a few different drive paths to deal with the challenging terrain, the team decided to drive uphill to avoid crossing the ripples near Jocko Butte.  On Sol 990, Curiosity drove 53 m back towards Mt. Shields, which puts our total odometry at 10,749 m.   The goal of today’s plan is to climb uphill towards an interesting geologic contact.  It’s the same contact that we would …

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19 May 2015

Sol 990: ChemCam Autofocus Software

by Ken Herkenhoff Testing of the new ChemCam automatic focusing software continues to go well–the instrument is returning well-focused data of the quality we got used to early in the mission.  The MAHLI test data acquired on Sol 989 are also looking good; here’s an image of the penny in the MAHLI calibration target on the rover.  Having completed the most urgent arm activities needed before conjunction, MSL is ready …

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Sol 987-989: Back at Jocko Butte

by Ryan Anderson The backwards drive on sol 986 was successful, and over the weekend, Curiosity drove back toward “Jocko Butte”. Before the drive on sol 987, ChemCam had a 5×1 observation of the target “Mill”, accompanied by a Mastcam image. Mastcam also took a small 2×2 mosaic of our tracks. The drive back toward Jocko Butte was about 43 m, bringing our total odometry to 10,697 m. After the …

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16 May 2015

Sol 986: Finding a Path

by Ryan Anderson We’ve been having trouble with the path we originally wanted to take through the sand toward the interesting geology at “Mt. Stimson”, so in today’s plan we are going to take a careful look around to identify better routes. Mastcam has a 13×3 mosaic in the direction we want to go, as well as a 5×3 mosaic of Mt. Stimson and a 2×2 mosaic to fill a …

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Sol 985: High Tilt

by Ken Herkenhoff Once again, excessive wheel slippage prevented MSL from driving as far as planned, so the tactical team decided to take a break from driving to allow various options to be studied in more detail.  The rover is tilted 21 degrees, the highest tilt of the mission so far, on the flank of a small ridge.  The vehicle is high enough on the ridge that the terrain to …

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14 May 2015

Sol 984: Slippery sand

  by Ken Herkenhoff The MSL tactical team took a day off yesterday to allow Earth and Mars time to synch up; planning is no longer restricted and we will be working every day the rest of this week (including Saturday).  Despite efforts to avoid sandy areas, the Sol 983 drive stopped short when the rover detected that it was slipping too much.  So after taking some Mastcam images of …

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12 May 2015

Sol 983: More sand traps

  by Ken Herkenhoff The Sol 981 drive got the rover around the troublesome ripples and to the desired location, which gave us a good view of the terrain ahead.  Unfortunately, the images taken from the new location show more sandy ripples between the rover and the sharp transition between bright and dark rocks that we would would like to examine close up.  So the plan for Sol 983 is …

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11 May 2015

Sols 980-982: Dodging Sand, Updating ChemCam

by Ryan Anderson The Sol 978 drive stopped after going only a couple meters instead of the expected ~19 meters because Curiosity detected that its wheels were slipping in the sand. The rover periodically takes pictures of its surroundings while driving to make sure that it is actually moving forward and its wheels are not just spinning in place. This was a lesson learned years ago when the Opportunity rover …

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7 May 2015

Sol 978-979: Jocko Chute

by Ryan Anderson The sol 976 drive was successful and we are close to “Jocko Chute” (our informal name for the saddle point west of Jocko Butte). In the sol 978 plan, we have a ChemCam LIBS observation of a patch of exposed bedrock called “Big Salmon”, followed by lots of Mastcam images. There is a 14×3 mosaic of some hills in the direction of our drive, some single frame …

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