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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 …


14 April 2016

Sol 1311: Take Me To Fracture Town

Today I was on duty as KOP again, but we got to sleep in: we started at 7 am instead of 6:30! Curiosity is in good shape and our drive was successful. In the Sol 1311 plan, we have ChemCam observations of the targets “Garnet Koppie,” “Amspoort,” “Soutrivier,” and “Uubvley.” Garnet Koppie and Amspoort will allow us to compare the composition of a bright fracture halo and the nearby bedrock, …


12 April 2016

Sol 1310: Good morning Mars!

Well, that was an early morning! I was on duty as the KOP today and we started at 6:30 am, so I was up and looking at new pictures of Mars before sunrise. Normally I would not be happy about getting up so early, but I reminded myself this morning that getting to help run a nuclear-powered laser-wielding robot on Mars is worth losing a little bit of sleep every …


11 April 2016

Sol 1309: Curiosity Can’t Catch a Break

We just can’t catch a break lately! Curiosity is healthy but unfortunately the plan for the weekend was not transmitted to Mars due to a Deep Space Network outage. That means that the contact science that was planned for the weekend is lost, but the team decided that it was not important enough for us to delay driving. Today’s plan attempts to at least recover the remote sensing observations before …


10 April 2016

Sols 1307-1308: Deja vu all over again

On Sol 1305, the rover straightened its wheels in preparation for a drive, but then the fault that prevented driving earlier this week occurred again, and the vehicle did not move.  The engineers are preparing to send parameter changes that will eliminate mobility actuator sensitivity to the transient power spikes. Fortunately, there are some rocks in front of the rover that are suitable for contact science, so the arm will …


6 April 2016

Sols 1305-1306: Deja vu

Once again, the Sol 1303 drive stopped during wheel steering, apparently due to another short in the RTG.  While the power and mobility engineers investigate the fault and ways to respond to them, another drive will be attempted on Sol 1305.  The remote science observations made on Sol 1303 went well, so only one ChemCam/Mastcam observation is planned before the Sol 1305 drive, of a rock with interesting surface texture …


4 April 2016

Sols 1303-1304: Driving Again

The Sol 1301 drive halted after only 4.5 meters of progress, apparently due to a short in the RTG that caused a steering actuator fault.  This type of fault has occurred before, so we are planning a drive toward the northwest on Sol 1303.  Before the drive, lots of remote sensing science is planned, starting with a Right Mastcam mosaic of an outcrop toward the southwest dubbed “Rasthof.”  Then ChemCam …


3 April 2016

Sols 1300-1302: Approaching the Edge of the Plateau

Everything went well in Wednesday’s plan, and we are near the edge of the Naukluft plateau, driving across “Stimson” bedrock. The weekend plan begins on Sol 1300 with three ChemCam observations of the bedrock target “Bero” and fracture targets “Iona”, “and “Arco” along with Mastcam documentation. This is followed up by some MAHLI and Mastcam images of Bero before and after brushing off the dust. MAHLI also has some images …


28 March 2016

Sols 1296-1297: Driving Across Rough Terrain

MSL drove about 17 meters on Sol 1294, continuing over rough terrain.  Some of the images that have been recently received show delicate features that have apparently been formed by windblown sand abrasion.  The path ahead is over more rough terrain, but it looks like we will be able to drive ~50 meters on Sol 1296.  Before driving, ChemCam and Mastcam will observe bedrock targets “Bloedkoppie,” “Blaubeker” and “Blaubock,” and …


24 March 2016

Sol 1292: Gnarly terrain ahead

Data was recovered from the missing MRO pass on Sol 1290, and we confirmed that the 23 m drive went well.  Today’s plan is to keep driving across the Naukluft Plateau.  The terrain looks pretty rough, so we’re plotting our course carefully.  Science activities in today’s plan include ChemCam and Mastcam observations to assess the local bedrock, and a Mastcam mosaic to document the sedimentary structures exposed here.  The plan …


23 March 2016

Sol 1291: Another curveball

Mars is certainly keeping us on our toes this week, and reminding us how challenging it can be to do remote operations on another planet.  We use two satellites in orbit around Mars to relay data: Mars Odyssey (ODY) and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).  On Sol 1290, the ODY pass relayed data that showed the rover status was healthy.  However, the MRO pass was not received due to an …


22 March 2016

Sol 1290: A good vantage point

The drive on Sol 1290 was successful, and Curiosity drove ~15 m to the north.  We are currently sitting on top of a ridge in the Stimson formation, which provides a good view of the surrounding terrain and will enable us to plan the upcoming drives better. The goal this week is to keep making our way across the Naukluft Plateau.  Today’s plan follows a similar structure: remote sensing, drive, …