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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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Sols 4 to 5: New Flight Software, MSL memes

After my uplink shift yesterday, I managed to catch a few hours of sleep before coming in at 3am. Today was my day off, you see. You may be wondering why one would come in to work at 3am on one’s day off. Answer: because that’s when the science happens! Actually, I mis-read the schedule. The science theme group meetings were more like 1am, but I got in in time …

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10 August 2012

Sol 3 to 4: Colorful Gale

Today was a long day for ChemCam uplink. We are planning to collect the first passive spectra of the calibration target on Sol 4, and that means it is also the first time that the ChemCam optics will be focused, placing the instrument at risk for damage from the sun if it is pointed incorrectly.

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8 August 2012

Introducing ChemRex!

I neglected to mention one important development from yesterday. On landing night, after I had finished freaking out about our successful safe landing, I noticed that fellow ChemCam post-doc Nina Lanza was wearing a very special ChemCam shirt with this on the front: As a big fan of lasers and dinosaurs (my favorite toys as a kid were DinoRiders), I had to ask about it. Apparently Nina had made an …

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Sol 2 to 3: First Navcams, and some new craters

There was a lot of excitement today because the remote sensing mast successfully deployed and overnight we received the first full-resolution images from the navigation cameras.

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Sol 1 to 2: MAHLI landscape, HiRISE Crime Scene

So, remember the awesome new data that I was geeking out about at the end of my previous post, but which I couldn’t share? Well, it has now been discussed at a press conference, so I’m free to share it. First up, here’s the image that made the ChemCam team shout out loud because of its sheer awesomeness…

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6 August 2012

WE LANDED ON MARS

We made it! Curiosity is safely on the surface of Mars and is returning some spectacular data!

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Dare Mighty Things

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

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5 August 2012

Sol -1: Planetfest, and ChemCam team rocks the house

  Today I managed to start off getting a bit of work done, then headed down to Planetfest, where I helped out with the Google Mars station for a while, giving tours of Gale crater and answering questions. In the afternoon, I was on a panel moderated by Emily Lakdawalla with a bunch of other young scientists and engineers, talking about how we got involved in space exploration. The panel …

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4 August 2012

Sol -2: Loose ends, interviews, landing site bingo, and Pixar

With this blog entry, I’m switching over to a more journal-like style that I will hopefully use throughout the mission. When there are Big Science Ideas to talk about related to the mission, I will of course try to explain them in their own posts, but I am also going to be doing posts like this one (although likely not usually as long), sharing what my day was like, what the ups and downs were, and hopefully providing a window into what it’s like to be involved in the mission without crossing the line into that which must not be blogged.

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3 August 2012

MSL: Mars Action Hero

You know, I’m tired of hearing about how the Mars Exploration Rovers are so cute, and spunky, but their successor Mars Science Lab is big and ugly. MSL isn’t supposed to be cute, it’s supposed to be awesome.

Just how awesome, you ask? I’ll tell you how awesome.

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