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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 …


27 August 2015

Sols 1087-1088: Bright features

The complex, nearly 39-meter Sol 1085 drive completed successfully, leaving the rover in another target-rich area.  Again, I helped pick targets for ChemCam observations–our favorites were on the brighter parts of the outcrop just south of the rover. The targets for ChemCam and Mastcam observations were named “Fitzpatrick,” “Keith,” and “Fred and George Creek.”  Mastcam will also acquire 2 mosaics before the rover drives away on Sol 1087.  Planning is …


26 August 2015

Terraced craters: Windows into Mars’ icy past

Scientists studied terraced craters on Mars and found an underground chunk of ice the size of California and Texas combined.


24 August 2015

Sols 1085-1086: Rough road ahead

MSL had a good weekend, and returned lots of data including nice MAHLI images of Ravalli. The nearly 22-meter Sol 1083 drive completed as planned, and placed the rover near some nice rock outcrops.  I helped the planning team select targets for ChemCam observations; we settled on two that were named “Tinder Box” and “Gordon.”  Mastcam will acquire mosaics of these targets as well as “Centennial Range” and “Willow Ridge.”  …


22 August 2015

Sols 1082-1084: Nice view

I’m having another very busy day as SOWG Chair, as we are planning lots of activities to keep the rover busy this weekend.  The vehicle is on a local high spot that gives us a spectacular view of the terrain ahead.  But there aren’t many targets in front of the rover that are suitable for contact science, so we selected only one (called “Ravalli”) to investigate using MAHLI and APXS.  …


20 August 2015

Sols 1080-1081: Official New Selfie!

We had another successful drive on 1079, going about 29 meters this time. The plan for sols 1080-1081 is pretty similar to the previous plan: remote sensing and a drive on the first day, and untargeted science on the second day. On sol 1080, ChemCam has observations of the targets “Red Lodge,” “Mowry,”  and “Rosebud,” with accompanying Mastcam images. Mastcam will also take a 19-frame stereo mosaic of a cliff …


17 August 2015

Sols 1078-1079: Back to restricted planning

I had an easy planning day as MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead today, because another drive is planned for Sol 1078 with only the usual post-drive MAHLI (stowed) and MARDI (twilight) imaging.  Planning is restricted again (Mars and Earth time are out of sync), so we are planning two sols.  Before driving away from the current location, ChemCam and Mastcam will observe rock targets dubbed “Huson” and “Ignatius” and Mastcam will image …


14 August 2015

Sols 1075-1077: Time for SAM!

We had another successful drive on sol 1074, putting us in a good position for the weekend! The main activity for the weekend is using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument to analyze some of the recent drill sample that we collected. SAM activities will take up all of sol 1075. On sol 1076, we will use MAHLI to check on the health of our wheels, and SAM will …


13 August 2015

Sol 1074: Crazy Mountain

The 47 meter drive on sol 1073 went exactly as expected, putting us in a good position for the sol 1074 plan. It’s a pretty simple plan today, with time for a single ChemCam observation of a target called “Crazy Mountain”. I got to pick the name for this target (one of my favorite parts of being involved in operations), and it seemed fitting since the target is on a …


12 August 2015

1073: Drive-Thru Geology

  The drive on sol 1072 was successful, with a total distance travelled of about 35 meters. For sol 1073, Mastcam will be very busy taking pictures to document the geology in our new location. We are planning a 31×1 mosaic of the outcrop in Marias Pass, plus a 13×3 mosaic of “Mt. Shields” (not to be confused with Mt. Sharp!) and a 10×3 stereo mosaic of “Gunton”. Navcam also …


11 August 2015

Sols 1071-1072: What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate

Unfortunately over the weekend there was an outage at the Deep Space Network, which prevented the plan for the weekend from being sent to Curiosity. So, instead of a busy weekend, Curiosity was in “runout” mode, making routine environmental monitoring measurements and waiting patiently for more instructions. The sol 1071 and 1072 plans are focused primarily on recovering the observations that were lost in the weekend plan, before we drive …


9 August 2015

Sols 1068-1070: Back at Missoula

Curiosity had a successful drive of 19 meters on Sol 1067, and we are currently back at Missoula for more targeted science.  The goal is to perform a detailed study of the Stimson-Pahrump contact, and to determine the relative timing of some of the veins that we’ve observed here. The three-sol plan is a busy one, with a lot of ChemCam analyses.  On Sol 1068 Curiosity will acquire ChemCam LIBS …


7 August 2015

Sol 1067: Bumping to Missoula… sound familiar?

With a familiar blog title, I report that in today’s plan we’re bumping towards the Missoula outcrop.  On Sol 1066 Curiosity drove ~ 25 m back toward Missoula, but we still have a little further to go.  However, the science team took advantage of our current position to collect some additional data on the Stimson unit (shown in the above Navcam image). Today’s plan includes ChemCam and Mastcam observations of …


5 August 2015

Sol 1066: Happy 3rd Anniversary on Mars!

  By Lauren Edgar Tonight marks the third anniversary of Curiosity’s landing in Gale crater.  It’s been a great three years, full of a number of important science discoveries.  Check out this video and webpage for a summary of some of the top science results so far. To celebrate starting her 4th year on Mars, Curiosity is driving away from the Lion outcrop, and back toward the Missoula outcrop.  I feel like …


4 August 2015

Sol 1065: Last Call at Lion

  By Lauren Edgar  It’s been a great couple of weeks at the Lion outcrop, but it’s time to move on.  After a successful investigation that included observations by almost every science instrument, we’re getting ready to drive away tomorrow.  That means that today (and tomorrow before we drive) is the last call for science observations. So we put together a full plan for Sol 1066.  In the morning we’ll …


3 August 2015

Sol 1064: Dump pre-sieve sample

The activities planned for last weekend completed successfully, including sample dropoff to CheMin (shown in image) and analysis of the minerals present.  So the Sol 1064 plan includes dumping the portion of the drill sample that has not been sieved and Mastcam, ChemCam, MAHLI, and APXS observations of the dump pile.  ChemCam and Mastcam will also observe nearby targets “Martz” and “Mountain Home.”  MAHLI will image the drill hole, tailings …


2 August 2015

Sols 1061-1063: Sample dropoff to CheMin

This morning, the MSL operations team was very happy to see that drilling into Buckskin was successful!  The weekend plan therefore has more arm activities, including transferring the sample to the scoop for inspection.  But first, the ChemCam RMI will take pictures of the new drill hole and Mastcam will image a potential location for eventually dumping the sample.  The sample will be sieved and a portion of the fine-grained …


30 July 2015

Sol 1060: GO for drilling!

By Lauren Edgar It’s another exciting day on Mars!  Curiosity is investigating some high-silica targets at an outcrop named “Lion.”  The team selected the “Buckskin” target to drill, and we successfully completed a mini drilling test yesterday (shown in the above MAHLI image).  That means that today we’re going for the FULL drill hole. Today’s plan is focused on the drilling activity, and a lot of imaging to document the …


29 July 2015

Sol 1059: Drill Testing and Analyzing "Ch-paa-qn"

Today the main event is a “mini-start hole”, which is the name for a new type of initial drilling test that we are trying out on the target “Buckskin”. This test will drill a small hole in the rock to help determine whether it is safe to go ahead with the full hole. In addition to that test, we are planning a detailed study of the target “Ch-paa-qn” which means …


28 July 2015

Sol 1057-1058: Getting Ready to Drill Buckskin

The “bump” over the weekend was successful, so we are right where we want to be to attempt drilling at “Buckskin” in the “Lion” area. I was on duty as ChemCam sPUL (science payload uplink lead) today, and it was a fun day to be on duty. Sometimes it can be stressful trying to make sure that all the settings are correct and that the instrument will be safe, but …