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7 October 2015

Sol 1127: Full MAHLI wheel imaging and bump

Planning is no longer restricted, but to ensure that Sol 1127 commands are ready to be sent to the rover on time, we had to start planning 1.5 hours earlier than usual this morning.  The Sol 1126 images show that the APXS was well centered over the pre-sieve dump pile, so we are ready to move on.  It’s time for a full set of MAHLI wheel images, which dominate the …


5 October 2015

Sol 1126: MAHLI selfie

The Mars Science Laboratory did well last weekend, but the Sol 1124 MAHLI images of the unsieved part of the drill sample showed that the APXS was not perfectly centered on the dump pile.  Therefore, the Sol 1126 plan includes new MAHLI images and APXS measurements, better centered on the dump pile.  Before the arm activities, ChemCam will acquire passive spectra of part of Mt. Sharp, a 5×1 LIBS raster …


4 October 2015

Sols 1123-1125: Drill hole and tailings

This composite image looking toward the higher regions of Mount Sharp was taken on September 9, 2015, by NASA’s Curiosity rover. In the foreground — about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the rover — is a long ridge teeming with hematite, an iron oxide. Just beyond is an undulating plain rich in clay minerals. And just beyond that are a multitude of rounded buttes, all high in sulfate minerals. The …


1 October 2015

Sol 1121-1122: Successful Drill at Big Sky

Success! Our drill at “Big Sky” went perfectly! On Sol 1121, the rover will transfer some of the powder from Big Sky to CheMin so that it can begin analyzing the mineralogy of the sample. Also on Sol 1121, ChemCam has an observation of the target “Minnekahta”. Mastcam will document the ChemCam location and also take a picture of the location on the ground where Big Sky material will be …


28 September 2015

Sol 1119-1120: "Go" for full drill at Big Sky!

As you can see, our mini-drill over the weekend went well, so we are GO for drilling “Big Sky” on sol 1119! The hope is that this location will provide a good sample of the “typical” rock in the area to compare with some of the interesting alteration we’ve been seeing. Along with the drilling, there will be a bunch of MAHLI documentation images of the hole from varying distances …


27 September 2015

Sols 1116-1118: Small drill, Big Sky

It’s time to drill again! After much deliberation, we have decided to try drilling the target “Big Sky” at our current location, in hopes of getting a good sample of relatively unaltered bedrock to compare with some of the altered rocks we have seen nearby. Sol 1116 is dedicated to doing the mini-start hole, which is how we test if the rock is safe to drill. MAHLI will take documentation …


24 September 2015

Sols 1114-1115: Contact science on Big Sky

The 14-meter Sol 1112 drive completed as planned, and the rover is in a good position for contact science.  There are flat areas in front of the rover that are suitable for drilling, so the Sol 1114 plan includes DRT brushing, MAHLI imaging, and APXS measurements of a target named “Big Sky.”  Before the arm is deployed, ChemCam and Mastcam will observe Big Sky and “Big Rock.”  I’m MAHLI/MARDI uplink …


21 September 2015

Sol 1112-1113: Rough Driving

The drive on Sol 1111 stopped early after just over 15 meters because we were driving over rough terrain and part of the rover’s suspension exceeded the allowed amount of tilt (this is not a physical limit, just a threshold in the software that tells the rover to stop and check with Earth to be safe). The rover is fine and we plan to drive again in the Sol 1112 …


20 September 2015

Sols 1109-1111: Contact Science on Bright Outcrop

The plan for the weekend is to do a detailed analysis of the outcrop in front of us and then drive away and do some untargeted observations. Sol 1109 includes ChemCam observations of the targets “Cody” and “Leroy”, plus a Navcam dust devil search. After that, the rover will brush the dust off of Cody, with MAHLI images before and after. APXS will then analyze the target Ferdig, and then …


17 September 2015

Sol 1108: Limited data for planning

The 16.6-meter drive planned for Sol 1107 completed as planned, placing the rover in front of the bright outcrop of interest.  As expected, only a few post-drive images were received in time for Sol 1108 planning, which made it more difficult than usual to pick targets for remote sensing observations and driving.  However, we found some bright blocks that the Rover Planners confirmed would be good targets for contact science, …


15 September 2015

Sol 1106: Searching for the Next Drilling Location

After some additional contact science on the Murray formation (of the location shown in the above Mastcam image), we’re now in search of a good sandstone for our next drill target. The goal of today’s plan is to drive towards a bright patch of blocky outcrop that was first identified in orbital images, and to see if this outcrop is an area that we might want to investigate further.  Today’s …


14 September 2015

Sol 1105: Murray Formation Contact Science

Over the weekend, Curiosity had a successful ~ 21 m drive, and we’re currently parked in front of a beautiful outcrop of the Murray formation (shown in the bottom half of the above Navcam image, overlain by Stimson).  We’ve mostly been driving through the Stimson unit for the past 280 m, so this is a great opportunity to do contact science on the Murray formation to look for any changes …


13 September 2015

Sols 1102-1104: Arm error recovery

The Sol 1101 activities that we planned yesterday did not complete due to an arm error while it was being stowed.  Apparently the shoulder azimuth motor was too cold, so the rover software halted the stow, which precluded the drive that was to follow.  The rover is therefore in the same position that it was yesterday. I’m not scheduled in any operational role today, but I called in to help …


10 September 2015

Sol 1101: Driving into the Saddle

The 34-meter drive planned for Sol 1100 placed the rover at the edge of the small plateau, as intended, with a good view of a bright Murray Formation outcrop. The center of the Murray outcrop is the target of the drive planned for Sol 1101, which will hopefully put the vehicle in position for contact science over the weekend.  Before the drive, ChemCam RMI and Mastcam observations of targets named …


9 September 2015

Sol 1100: Swan, Sunburst, Studhorse, Sweetgrass Arch, and Silver Hill

The rover drove 34.5 meters on Sol 1099, as planned, to a good location for the imaging of the northwest wall of Bridger Basin. The Mastcam team verified that the pointing of the mosaic of that wall, planned to occur early on Sol 1100, is excellent.  So the Sol 1100 plan includes another drive, to the southwest edge of the small plateau the rover is on.  Before the drive, ChemCam …


8 September 2015

Sol 1099: Driving again

MSL did well over the long weekend, except that the Sol 1098 drive was halted after 13 meters of the planned 25 meters because the rover could not confirm that the path ahead was safe.  So the plan for the Sol 1099 drive is essentially to complete the rest of the previously planned drive.  The only significant problem I’ve had to grapple with today as SOWG Chair is that the …


2 September 2015

Sol 1093: Leaving the Williams area

After successful contact science on the Stimson unit in the Williams area, it’s time to get back on the road.  In today’s plan we’ll finish up a few activities at the Williams area, and then continue on our drive towards Bridger Basin and eventually the Bagnold Dunes. Today’s plan consists of ChemCam and Mastcam observations on the targets “Interlake,” “Ledger,” and “Mackay Dome.”  Then we’ll image the “Ledger” target using …


1 September 2015

Sol 1092: Stimson Contact Science

Curiosity is currently investigating an outcrop of the Stimson unit.  On Sol 1091, Curiosity acquired some low-resolution MAHLI images of the targets “Pentagon,” “Lebo,” “Ivanhoe,” and “Ledger” in order to plan more detailed imaging of those targets today. The Sol 1092 plan includes targeted remote sensing followed by more contact science.  In the midday science block, we’ll acquire ChemCam and Mastcam on the targets “Rabbit Hills” and “Horseshoe Hills” to …


31 August 2015

Sol 1091: Lots of MAHLI targets

Planning is no longer restricted, but we had to start at 6:00 PDT this morning to give the operations team enough time to uplink commands by the time the rover expects them.  Driving to work before sunrise reminded me of the sometimes odd times we had to wake up during the first 90 sols of the mission, when the entire operations team was on “Mars time.” The team is very …


30 August 2015

Sols 1089-1090: Stimson is Stunning

Curiosity is currently making her way through some beautiful exposures of the Stimson unit.  The 6 m drive on Sol 1087 went well, and Curiosity is in a good position for possible contact science early next week. Today we’re planning 2-sols for the weekend (Sunday is a “soliday” to allow Earth and Mars schedules to sync back up).  One of the main activities on Sol 1089 is dropping off part …