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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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


5 May 2015

Sols 976-977: Onward to Jocko Butte

by Ryan Anderson With our weekend contact science done, it’s time to hit the road again. The sol 976 plan includes some final Mastcam mosaics of the interesting outcrops that we have been studying, plus a Mastcam multispectral observation of the target “Albert” that ChemCam zapped over the weekend. After that, we will drive about 60 m, to a location west of “Jocko Butte”. After the drive we have post-drive …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …