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3 May 2015

Sol 973-975: Albert, Bigfork, and Charity

  by Ken Herkenhoff MSL is in a good position for contact science observations on an interesting outcrop of sedimentary rock, so the rover will be busy this weekend!  We had to change the timing of the arm activities a bit to optimize the illumination of MAHLI targets, so it was a busy morning for me as SOWG Chair but I’m happy with the way the plan turned out.  On …

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29 April 2015

Sol 971-972: Approaching outcrop

  by Ken Herkenhoff This morning the MSL science team used all of the available data to decide whether to approach one of the nearby outcrops or drive away.  Ultimately we decided to approach the closer of the large outcrops in front of the rover to set up for contact science this weekend.  Planning is still “restricted,” so we planned two sols of activities today.  ChemCam and Mastcam will observe …

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27 April 2015

Sol 969-970: Studying Mt. Shields

by Ryan Anderson Our drive on sol 967 covered almost 90 meters, putting us in front of some interesting stratigraphy at “Mt. Shields”, an outcrop along our drive down “Logan’s Run”. In the sol 969-970 plan, we have lots of Mastcam and ChemCam studying the outcrop. On sol 969, Mastcam has a 24×2 stereo mosaic and a 6×3 stereo mosaic of parts of Mt. Shields. Then, on sol 970, ChemCam …

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26 April 2015

Sol 966-968: More Driving

  by Ken Herkenhoff The rover drove 32 meters on Sol 964, to a position that gave us a good view of the terrain ahead and outcrops of interest.  So a longer (~90 m) drive is planned for Sol 967 after ChemCam and Mastcam observe nearby targets dubbed “Pablo” and “Pauline” on Sol 966.  Mastcam, Navcam and REMS will also observe the atmosphere.  I’m MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead today, and planned …

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23 April 2015

Sols 964-965: Logan’s Run? Or just a short dash…

By Lauren Edgar Although we had planned a drive of up to 48 m towards “Logan’s Run” on Sol 963, the drive ended early after only 17 m due to the detection of a nearby hazard (a large rock).  This was the first time in a while that we were using autonav for driving.  The good news is that the hazard was detected, and the events are understood.  It just means …

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22 April 2015

Sol 963: Making a run for it

By Lauren Edgar After cruising through Artist’s Drive, Curiosity set her sights on the next pass, known as “Logan Pass.” However, the science team realized that there’s an interesting outcrop to west of “Logan Pass,” which may help us to understand how these rocks relate to the section that we investigated at the Pahrump Hills.  So we decided to make a run for it, and take a quick trip over …

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21 April 2015

Sol 962: MAHLI wheel imaging

  by Ken Herkenhoff The Sol 960 drive went as planned, for a total of over 102 meters!  The rover has driven far enough since the last full set of MAHLI images were acquired that it’s time to take another full set to look for more wheel wear.  So my focus today as MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead was on planning wheel images.  MARDI images are typically taken at each wheel-imaging position …

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20 April 2015

Sol 959-961: Daughter of the Sun

by Ryan Anderson The short drive on sol 958 was a success, placing us at the top of a small ridge, facing an outcrop dubbed “Daughter of the Sun”. The plan for sol 959 is to do some ChemCam and Mastcam of targets “Gold” and “Espinoza”, followed by several Mastcam mosaics. The biggest mosaic will be a 26×2 stereo mosaic looking toward Logan Pass. We also have a 7×3 stereo …

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16 April 2015

Sol 958: Officially 10k!

by Ryan Anderson The Sol 957 drive went well, and the rover has officially driven 10 kilometers! (Last week I announced that we had reached 10k, but that was 10k measured by how many times the wheels have spun, not how far across the surface of Mars the rover has gone. Now, no matter how you measure it, we’ve gone 10,000 meters!). Unfortunately, we stopped with a ridge in front …

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15 April 2015

Sol 957: Fine Views and Limited Downlink

  by Ken Herkenhoff MSL drove about 65 meters on Sol 956, then took some nice images of the path ahead.  As we continue to drive each sol, acquiring images of the terrain around us is important to the science team.  We don’t want to miss anything!  So the Sol 957 plan includes ChemCam RMI and Mastcam images of outcrops to the south and a Mastcam image of the windblown …

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14 April 2015

Sol 956: Curiosity to Watch Mercury Transit

by Ryan Anderson With the last portion of the Telegraph Peak sample delivered to SAM and analyzed by APXS, we are ready to keep driving. In the sol 956 plan, there is a quick science block in the morning, to allow the rover to take a couple of Mastcam pictures of nearby boulders called “Waucoba” and Navcam pictures to complete the 360 degree panorama of the area. After that, we …

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13 April 2015

Sols 953-955: Dumping Telegraph Peak

by Ryan Anderson Our sol 952 drive went well, and we’re very close to crossing over into a new “quad” of the map that was made before landing (meaning we will get a whole new bunch of target names to choose from!). On Saturday the team planned for a lengthy ChemCam focus test on sol 953, where we collect images of the target “Eaton Canyon” at different times of day …

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10 April 2015

Sol 952: A Longer Drive and Slippery 10k

  by Ken Herkenhoff MSL drove 18 meters on Sol 951, as planned, putting the rover in position to image the terrain ahead and plan a longer drive on Sol 952.  The total “wheel odometry” for the MSL mission is now over 10 km!  But the total traverse distance is still less than 10 km, because the wheels sometimes slip while driving, and the wheel odometry does not take slippage …

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9 April 2015

Sol 951: 10k

by Ryan Anderson We are continuing our driving tour of Artist’s Drive, and we should be reaching the 10k mark on Curiosity’s odometer in the sol 951 plan! The rover will start off the day with a targeted science block full of Mastcam observations. We are planning two Mastcam mosaics looking at the layers in the valley walls on either side of us, plus a routine “clast survey” image to document the soil and gravel …

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8 April 2015

Sol 950: Taking in the Scenery along Artist’s Drive

  By Lauren Edgar Like most tourists who visit Artist’s Drive on Earth, Curiosity is busy taking lots of photos to document the valley walls of Artist’s Drive on Mars.  We are officially on the road again, and working our way through a very scenic drive.  I’m the Geology Science Theme Lead today, and today’s plan involves a pre-drive science block, a drive for hopefully ~30-40m, and some post-drive imaging …

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6 April 2015

Sol 948: Good Morning Mars

  By Lauren Edgar As we started the planning day before sunrise, I was reminded of the first three months of the mission that we spent living on Mars time.   Today is an early “slide sol,” meaning that the planning timeline is shifted 1.5 hours earlier in order to compensate for our downlink and uplink times. Today is also a “tight” planning sol, meaning that the planning timeline is slightly shorter …

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31 March 2015

Martian Chronicles is Back!

Good news everyone: this blog is coming out of retirement! For a while now, I and two other USGS scientists on the Curiosity team, Ken Herkenhoff and Lauren Edgar, have been posting brief updates on what the Curiosity rover is up to, over at the USGS Astrogeology website. Now, through the wonders of the internet (and some behind the scenes work by the USGS and AGU webmasters) those updates will …

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20 March 2014

From TED: 3 rules to spark learning

Ramsey Musallam’s TED talk is described as the following: “It took a life-threatening condition to jolt chemistry teacher Ramsey Musallam out of ten years of “pseudo-teaching” to understand the true role of the educator: to cultivate curiosity. In a fun and personal talk, Musallam gives 3 rules to spark imagination and learning, and get students excited about how the world works.” What the description does not share is that he …

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1 October 2013

Update: Government Shutdown Felt All The Way To Mars- Curiosity In Hibernation?

Now that the Federal Government has shut down, here are some of the effects in the science community. 1. Curiosity on Mars is being put into hibernation mode. (Update: Am told Curiosity is still doing science… for now…) (Update Wed. 2 AM: Because JPL acts as a contractor Curiosity is still being operated as of now. See HERE.) 2. Almost all (97%) of NASA will shut down with the exception …

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30 April 2013

Rocketplanes, Science comics, and Curiosity

First of all, in case you missed it, we live in the future. Proof? This actual photograph from Virgin Galactic’s successful supersonic rocketplane flight:

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