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23 May 2016

Sol 1350: Data processing delay

I’m SOWG Chair again today, and started browsing the latest data from MSL early this morning.  To my dismay, the post-drive images that we expected to receive in time for planning today were not available!  It turned out that the data were received on Earth, but the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter operations team had some problems processing and transferring it to us.  We waited as long as we could for the …


Sols 1348-1349: A smoother route

Our drive on Sol 1346 was successful and brought us to a location with a view of the rugged ridges of the area we’ve been calling “Fracture Town”. In fact, from our current location, we decided that those ridges may be a bit too rough for comfort, so we are planning a slight change in course that will take us a bit south of our original path. The new path …


18 May 2016

Sols 1346-1347: Onward to Fracture Town

We are coming up on the edge of Naukluft plateau (again!). The plan for Sol 1346 starts off with ChemCam observations of the targets “Etusis” and “Etiro,” to continue measuring the variations in silica abundance around large fractures. Mastcam has a context image of these two targets, plus a mosaic looking ahead to an area we’ve been calling “Fracture Town.” After that, the rover will drive and do standard post-drive …


16 May 2016

Sols 1344-1345: Touch and Go

The drive planned last weekend completed successfully, moving MSL less than 6 meters into position for contact science on the rocks broken by the rover wheels. Planning is restricted this week, so we are planning 2 sols’ worth of activities.  The first sol (1344) includes a “touch and go” that requires extra Rover Planner staffing, as both arm activities and a drive are planned.  It’s great to be able to …


15 May 2016

Sols 1341-1343: A change of plans

The MSL team was originally planning a long drive this weekend, but there was enough interest in the fresh rock surfaces exposed near the rover that we decided to investigate them instead.  Before we could decide whether to “bump” to the rocks that were broken when the rover drove over them, we had to make sure they could be well imaged by MAHLI. Taking MAHLI images of nearly vertical faces …


11 May 2016

Sols 1339-1340: Two Mars Years!

Happy birthday, Curiosity! As of today, the rover has been on the surface of Mars for two Mars years (almost four Earth years)! To celebrate, we have a new press release discussing our ongoing environmental measurements. These sorts of systematic measurements become more useful the longer the rover is on the surface to collect them, because we can compare how conditions change from year to year. Of course, we had …


10 May 2016

Sols 1337-1338: Curiosity’s two-day arm challenge, followed by a selfie

Today’s two-sol plan is going to be quite an arm workout for Curiosity.  Over the weekend, Curiosity transferred and sieved the “Okoruso” drill sample, and analyzed it with CheMin.  That means that today’s plan is focused on arm activities and imaging the drill location.  The plan starts by dumping the pre-sieved drill sample.  Then we’ll use Mastcam to image the dump pile and drill site.  Next, we’ll target the drill …


9 May 2016

Sols 1334-1336: Successful drilling at Okoruso

Meet the latest drill hole on Mars: “Okoruso,” created on Sol 1332, seen in the above MAHLI image.  Drilling activities went well on Sol 1332, so the weekend plan is focused on sieving the sample and dropping it off to CheMin for analysis.  The plan starts with a short science block to acquire a ChemCam RMI image of the drill hole, and Mastcam stereo imaging of the pre-sieve dump location.  …


4 May 2016

Sols 1332-1333: Drilling at Okoruso

Contact science activities on Sol 1330 went well, and we’re ready to drill at “Okoruso.”  As seen in the above MAHLI image, this target looks like pretty typical Stimson bedrock, so it will be helpful to compare to the altered rock that we sampled at Lubango. Today’s two-sol plan is focused on drilling and MAHLI imaging on the first sol, with a lot of targeted remote sensing on the second …


3 May 2016

Sols 1330-1331: Characterizing the next drill site

Over the weekend, Curiosity completed the drilling investigation at Lubango, and we drove ~13 m to the “Ovitoto” area (note that this area is only ~4 m away from Cubango as the crow flies, but it took some maneuvering to get there).  This area is composed of typical unaltered Stimson bedrock, which we’ll use to compare to the altered bedrock at Lubango.  I was on duty as GSTL today, and …


1 May 2016

Sols 1326-1329: Wrapping Up at Lubango

After a nice rest on Sol 1325, Curiosity was charged up and ready for lots of science! On Sol 1326, we started off with multispectral Mastcam observations of the pile of dumped powder from the “Lubango” drill target and the targets “Rubikon” and “Ebony.” Then ChemCam had a passive observation of the dump pile, followed by active observations using the laser on Rubikon as well as “Ida” and “Lorelei.” Mastcam …


27 April 2016

Sol 1325: Taking it Easy

It’s been a busy few days of drilling and related activities, so the plan for sol 1325 is a pretty simple one to allow the rover’s batteries to recharge. There is a short science block with a ChemCam observation of the drill tailings at “Lubango” along with Mastcam documentation. After that, MAHLI will take a closer look at the targets “Lianshulu” and “Rubikon.” Other than routine environmental monitoring measurements by …


26 April 2016

Sol 1324: Power-constrained

As expected, the Sol 1323 data we needed for planning today were received later than usual, so tactical planning started 3 hours later than normal.  This makes for a long day, especially for the European members of the MSL operations team.  But the real challenge today is power–the drill-related activities that have been commanded lately require discharging the batteries more deeply than we usually do.  So as SOWG Chair today, …


Sol 1323: A new drill hole

So far, all of the activities planned for last weekend have completed successfully, and we have a new drill hole on Mars!  The Sol 1323 plan is therefore to continue the Lubango drill campaign, transferring the sample to CHIMRA, sieving it, and delivering some of the <0.15 mm fraction to CheMin.  ChemCam will shoot its laser at “Oshikati,” a potential target for the next drilling campaign, and Mastcam will acquire …


23 April 2016

Sols 1320-1322: Drilling at Lubango

The contact science activities on Sol 1319 went well, and we analyzed another DRT location with MAHLI and APXS.  The drill pre-load test suggested that the Lubango block might have moved slightly, but the RPs feel comfortable to go ahead and drill in the weekend plan. I was on duty as GSTL again today, and it’s always exciting when we get to drill a new sample on Mars.  In addition …


21 April 2016

Sol 1318: DRT at Lubango

The bump on Sol 1317 went well, and we’re ready to start our drilling campaign at the “Lubango” fracture zone.  After a lot of discussion this morning, the plan evolved to include contact science at three targets near “Lubango.”  First we’ll use the DRT to clear off a fresh surface.  This DRT location is slightly offset from the intended drill location, so we’ll use MAHLI to image both the DRT …


19 April 2016

Sol 1317: Preparing to Drill

On Sol 1316, Curiosity drove ~15 m back toward the “Lubango” target, which we first observed on Sol 1310.  “Lubango” is a high silica target that sits along a fracture in the Stimson formation.  The team decided to drill near this fracture to better understand both the altered and unaltered Stimson bedrock.  “Lubango” is the flat block on the right side of the above Navcam image.  The fracture is still …


18 April 2016

Sol 1316: Back to Lobango

All of the activities planned for last weekend completed successfully, including the full MAHLI wheel imaging and associated rover motion of just over 1 meter.  The science team decided to return to the Lubango outcrop based on ChemCam results that show unusually high silica there.  Therefore, the Sol 1316 plan includes a drive back toward Lubango to find good targets for drilling.  Before the drive, ChemCam and Mastcam will observe …


Sols 1313-1315: Full MAHLI wheel imaging

Tactical planning was a bit hectic today as we reacted to yesterday’s change in the near-term science goals, but the team quickly determined what is feasible and put together a good plan.  There are no good brushable targets in the arm workspace, so the DRT will not be used.  Rather, we selected 3 targets for MAHLI imaging and APXS measurements of natural surfaces.  I’m MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead today, and have …


16 April 2016

Sol 1312: The best laid plans…

The original plan for today included an ~11 m drive to get closure to a fracture in the Stimson formation.  However, during science discussion, the team talked further about how to best sample both altered and unaltered Stimson bedrock, and realized that some of the best places to accomplish the proposed sampling were likely behind us!  As a result of this discussion, the drive in today’s plan was pulled at …