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10 February 2016

Sol 1250: Dumping for Contact Science

The Sol 1249 drive went well, leaving the rover in an area with many nice outcrops of bright bedrock.  A large outcrop, partly visible at the left side of the image above, was chosen as the target for dumping the sand sample and examining it this weekend.  So, after ChemCam and Mastcam observations of the bedrock target “Kuiseb,” the vehicle will back up, turn a bit to the left, then …


9 February 2016

Sol 1249: Twelve kilometers and counting

The rover has traversed over 12 km since landing, and another drive is planned for Sol 1249.  The tactical planning team decided to forgo targeted remote science observations before the drive to allow more time for driving.  The goal is to get the vehicle to a location that will allow the remaining dune sample to be dumped and examined in detail this weekend, and this will require more drive time …


8 February 2016

Sol 1248: Re-planning a Drive

It’s not Groundhog Day, but the drive planned for Sol 1247 will be attempted again on Sol 1248.  Due to a minor sequencing error, the arm activities that were planned for the morning of Sol 1247 were precluded.  Because the arm was not stowed that sol, the drive did not execute and the rover has not moved.  We were not able to recover the MAHLI imaging of the REMS UV …


6 February 2016

Sols 1245-1247: Analyzing Murray formation bedrock

On Sol 1244, Curiosity bumped 2 meters forward to get to a nice patch of bedrock.  The focus of the weekend plan is to study typical Murray formation bedrock, do some targeting remote sensing, and then drive towards the Naukluft Plateau. The 3-sol weekend plan starts by using the DRT to clear off the dust on the target “Kudis.”  Then we’ll acquire MAHLI images of this typical Murray formation bedrock.  …


4 February 2016

Sol 1244: Bump, Set… Scuff!

Today’s plan is focused on bumping towards a bedrock target to set us up for contact science in the weekend plan.  As we bump forward, we’ll use the rear wheels to create one last scuff in Namib Dune, which we’ll image as we drive away. I was the GSTL today, and we had a busy morning deciding where to drive to and how to image the scuff that we’ll create.  …


3 February 2016

Sol 1243: Getting ready to leave Namib Dune

The contact science activities on Sol 1242 were successful, which completed our investigation at the Namib Dune sampling location.  I love the above Navcam image, which shows just how close we were able to get MAHLI to the dump piles, followed by the really high-resolution MAHLI image!  Now it’s time to leave Namib Dune and head off in search of the next drill location. I was the GSTL today, and …


Sol 1242: Last analyses of the dump piles

Today was the last day for science activities at Namib Dune, as we’re planning to drive away on Sol 1243.  It’s fun looking at the disturbed sand in the workspace, and realizing how much we’ve done here (is it just me, or does it look like a big sandbox full of scoops, dumps and wheel scuffs?).  While it might look like Curiosity has just been playing in the sand, we’ve …


2 February 2016

Sol 1241: Wrapping up at Namib Dune

Curiosity is still parked at Namib dune, and we are we are close to finishing the science investigation here.  The team is still working to diagnose the CHIMRA anomaly, but the arm was cleared for use in today’s plan. The science activities in today’s plan include some additional MAHLI images to supplement the previously acquired selfie, and some long-distance ChemCam RMI mosaics to study layering on Mt. Sharp and the …


31 January 2016

Sol 1239-1240: Analyzing the Sands of Mars

Since the anomaly with CHIMRA is still being investigated, there was no science involving the arm in today’s plan. Still, there was plenty to do, and we had to be careful not to collect too much extra data because there is a backlog of data on the rover waiting to be downlinked to Earth. On Sol 1239 we planned a bunch of observations of a target called “Gosser Schroffenstein” in …


27 January 2016

Sols 1237-1238: Viewing an Alluvial Fan during CHIMRA Diagnostics

The cause of the CHIMRA anomaly is still being investigated, so no arm motion was planned today while diagnostic testing continues.  Because only remote science observations are allowed, it was a straightforward day for me as SOWG Chair and for the rest of the tactical science team. The only challenge was that the volume of data expected to be received in time for planning on Friday is less than usual …


26 January 2016

Sols 1235-1236: CHIMRA Anomaly

I’m scheduled as MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead today, and was looking forward to planning more close-up imaging as the Namib dune campaign continues.  Unfortunately, the CHIMRA behaved in an unexpected way during processing of the third scoop on Sol 1231, which prevented completion of the arm activities planned for last weekend.  While experts evaluate the anomalous behavior and develop a recovery plan, no new arm activities will be planned.  So I …


24 January 2016

Sol 1232-1235: Working through the To-Do list

We are steadily continuing to check things off of the long “To Do” list for our stop at Namib Dune. This weekend’s plan starts on sol 1232 with a day dedicated to analyzing the sand samples with SAM. Then, on Sol 1233 we will start off with Mastcam change detection on the target “Hebron” and then a “multispectral” observation of the target “Hakos” using all of Mastcam’s different color filters. …


21 January 2016

Sol 1230-1231: Getting the scoop at Namib Dune

Our campaign to analyze “Namib Dune” continues! In the sol 1230-1231 plan the main event is dropping off some sand in the SAM instrument, but some of the other instruments got a workout too. The sol 1230 plan originally included a science block with some ChemCam, Mastcam, and Navcam observations, but unfortunately that had to be cut to save power, so those observations will have to happen over the weekend. …


18 January 2016

Sol 1228-1229: Selfie and Scooping

Our campaign to analyze the Bagnold dunes continues! In the Sol 1228 plan we have a bunch of arm activity, starting with a rover “selfie” in front of the sand dune, followed by scooping up and sieving a sample of sand. Mastcam and MAHLI will both thoroughly document the scooping process. Mastcam also has a change detection observation of the target “Hebron”. On Sol 1229, Mastcam will repeat that change …


16 January 2016

Sols 1225-1227: Analyzing dump piles

As seen in the images above, the arm activities on Sols 1223-1224 went well, and we’re ready for even more contact science in the 3-sol weekend plan.  To kick things off, ChemCam will analyze the composition of the wall of the scuff and will also document a sharp-crested ripple with the RMI.  Then Mastcam will document the ChemCam target and look for sand movement.  Overnight, APXS will be used to …


13 January 2016

Sols 1223-1224: Scooping sand for SAM

The Sol 1221 drive went well, including a wheel scuff in the dark sand dune, and the rover is in a good position for contact science.  The Sol 1223-1224 plan is therefore loaded with arm activities, limited by the available power.  First, MAHLI will take pictures of a couple of locations on the dune surface that has not been disturbed by the wheels, and of sand that was disturbed by …


11 January 2016

Sols 1221-1222: Back on track

MSL has recovered from the motor controller anomaly, so tactical operations are back on track, with a drive to the dune sampling area planned for Sol 1221.  I helped the ChemCam team select targets for LIBS and RMI observations today.  Before the drive, ChemCam will observe a target named “Probeer” on a patch of bedrock in front of the rover.  Mastcam will also image Probeer and acquire a stereo mosaic …


10 January 2016

Sols 1218-1220: Change in plans

We came in this morning curious to see how the Sol 1217 bump and scuff went, but unfortunately there was an anomaly that prevented any use of motors during the plan.  No motors meant no drive and no scuff, and most of our planned activities did not occur.  So today turned into a recovery day – first trying to assess what happened and why it happened, and then figuring out …


7 January 2016

Sol 1217: Where to sample?

On Sol 1216 Curiosity drove 43 m toward the Namib Dune sampling location.  That meant that today we had to decide on our final sampling spot, and there were many different factors to consider.  I was the GSTL today, and it was a busy morning trying to figure out our top science priorities.  We eventually settled on a location that met all of our science objectives: a sharp-crested ripple that …


6 January 2016

Sol 1216: Looking forward to sampling and scuffing

On Sol 1215, Curiosity drove 67 m toward the Namib Dune sampling location.  The desired location is visible in the middle of the above Navcam image.  Today’s plan includes another drive to get into position for sampling and “scuffing” (using a rover wheel to dig a small transect in the sand).  Science activities today include ChemCam and Mastcam observations to monitor the composition and opacity of the atmosphere, and a …