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27 June 2016

Sol 1384: Curiosity Rover at Baynes Mountain

Our weekend Curiosity rover soliday plan was successful, putting us about halfway to our next likely drilling location. We are now in “unrestricted” planning again, meaning we will be getting data down overnight and can plan every day this week.

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22 June 2016

Sols 1380-1381: Contact Science at “Koes”

The drive on Sol 1378 went well, and Curiosity drove ~44 m to the south, bringing our total drive distance to more than 13.2 km. We’re currently making our way through a gap in the Bagnold dunes (part of a dune is visible in the upper left of the drive direction Navcam frame).

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21 June 2016

Sol 1378-1379: Making up for lost distance

Over the weekend, the rover stopped after about 17 meters of the planned 65 meter drive. The rover is fine, the drive just tripped one of the (very conservative) limits on how the rover’s suspension was expected to behave, causing Curiosity to stop and check in with Earth. Since there is nothing jumping out at us as a contact science target where we stopped, in today’s plan we will try to make up for some of the lost distance from the weekend plan.

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15 June 2016

Sols 1373-1374: No touch, just go!

The 32-meter Sol 1371 drive completed exactly as planned, giving the rover a good view of the path toward the south.  So another ~30-meter drive is planned for Sol 1373, after some remote science observations.  We had the option of using the DRT and taking MAHLI images of the brush spot before the drive, but the science team decided to acquire more remote science observations rather than brushing the Stimson …

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13 June 2016

Sols 1371-1372: Driving south

The weekend drive went well, and Curiosity drove ~ 32 m to the south.  This southward path will eventually take us through a gap in the active sand dunes that will be easier for Curiosity to traverse.  We’re planning another drive today, which will take us in the direction of the above Navcam image. Today’s two-sol plan consists of several ChemCam and Mastcam observations of the Murray formation to assess …

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2 June 2016

Sol 1360: Preparing to drill

Arm work continues to go well, so preparation for drilling and sample analysis is the focus of the Sol 1360 plan.  First, CheMin will dump the Lubango and Okoruso drill samples out of their cells.  Then ChemCam and Mastcam will observe a bright vein named “Charlottenfelder” and a bedrock target called “Chameis Bay” before arm activities resume. MAHLI will take close-up images of the Oudam drill target and a single …

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1 June 2016

Sol 1359: Cleaning CHIMRA (Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis device)

The remaining Okoruso drill sample was successfully dumped onto the ground on Sol 1358, so MSL is ready for a new drill sample.  In preparation, the Sol 1359 plan includes an arm preload test on “Oudam,” the next drill target, and cleaning out CHIMRA with imaging to verify that everything is clean. Before all the arm activities, ChemCam and Mastcam will observe the Okoruso dump pile and a bedrock target …

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18 April 2016

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 …

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14 November 2015

Sols 1164-1165: Brushing “Swartkloofberg”

The rover drove over 38 meters on Sol 1162, as expected.  We are transitioning out of restricted planning, so only 2 sols are being planned for this weekend.  There were so many good ideas for activities this morning that the team had to decide which to remove from the plan to leave enough charge in the rover’s batteries to enable nominal planning on Monday.  Still, the plan is a very …

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26 October 2015

Sol 1146-1147: A View of Meeteetse

The weekend drive was successful, placing us nicely on an overlook of the “Meeteetse” area. The focus for Sol 1146 is to get some good color stereo images of the whole area, including “Big Sky,” “Greenhorn,” and “Meeteetse”. Mastcam will take a 16×3 mosaic of the Meeteetse area, plus a 12×1 right-eye mosaic of some nearby resistant ridges. It will also measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere by …

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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 …

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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 …

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6 July 2015

Sol 1033-1036: Independence Day Planning!

To paraphrase our SOWG chair’s paraphrasing of the Declaration of Independence at the start of today’s SOWG meeting: “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to plan a 4 sol plan, we assemble a group of patriots to make that plan. And that’s what we did today!” Today I was back on duty as KOP and Ken was on duty for ChemCam science. As usual, it was …

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2 July 2015

Sol 1032: Lots of Contact Science!

Phew! Today was a busy day on Mars! Ken and I were both on operations today, picking up where Lauren left off yesterday. Ken was helping with ChemCam science in the geology and mineralogy (GeoMin) theme group, and I was the GeoMin Keeper of the Plan (KOP). We started off the day admiring the beautiful images from the sol 1031 “dog’s-eye view” mosaic of the ledge near the target “Missoula”. …

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30 June 2015

Sol 1030: Bumping to Missoula

  By Lauren Edgar Curiosity is still investigating the contact between the Pahrump and Stimson units.  Over the weekend, Curiosity acquired MAHLI images on a coarse-grained rock named “Big Arm” (above).  The goal today is to characterize some of the veins that occur above and below the contact, and then bump towards a target named “Missoula” to assess the contact at that location.  The plan today includes ChemCam observations of …

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16 May 2015

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 …

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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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19 November 2012

MSL Instrument Papers Available!

Just in time for the thanksgiving holiday, Space Science Reviews has released its special issue containing all the instrument papers for MSL, along with papers describing the mission’s overall goals, the landing site selection process, and the studies of the atmosphere that helped NASA stick the landing. So this year while you wait for the turkey to cook, take a look at some of these papers and learn about the awesome laboratory that is exploring Mars and give thanks that we live at a time when such things are possible. I’m sure your family won’t mind once you tell them what interesting stuff you’re reading… 🙂

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15 August 2012

What time is it on Mars? Science Time.

We’re wrapping up the flight software update on Curiosity and getting ready to continue the commissioning phase, testing out each instrument in turn and gathering new science data. As you have seen, the cameras were already busy before the software update. That’s because taking a picture is relatively simple: the only movement involved is the rover mast and the focus. ChemCam is more complicated than taking a photo, but it …

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11 August 2012

First Full-Resolution Mastcam Panorama

Feast your eyes on this: As you can see, there are still a few frames missing, but still. Wow. I love the way the crater rim fades in the distance, and the tantalizing glimpses at the layers of Mt. Sharp. The foreground is plenty interesting too, with a variety of rock shapes and colors, and of course the rocks exposed by the blast of the skycrane’s rockets. I feel like …

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