17 April 2017
Today I covered the ChemCam Payload Element Lead (PEL) role for this first Monday after Easter. Normally the ChemCam team starts Mondays with a telephone tag-up as we hand over operations between the French and US portions of the team. We alternate doing ChemCam operations from week to week, and the Monday teleconferences are the switching point where we convey to the incoming team any useful information that happened the previous week. However, as our French colleagues celebrate Easter a little longer than we do (they have Monday off), we skipped the usual phone tag-up, and traded the usual information by e-mail.
Overall, the French part of the ChemCam team has somewhat more of a challenge, as the daytime operations at JPL in California end up being during the evening and nighttime in France. I attended operations in Toulouse one time and I can verify that operations run very late. French law mandates that employers must provide dinners for anyone who must work late. The operations center at CNES is up to standards with gourmet pre-packaged French cuisine, a small perk for having to work at night. Overall, I have a lot of respect for the dedicated late-night team in France (of course, also for the daytime teams in the US).
Meanwhile, back on Mars, Curiosity nailed the 34 meter drive to another rock exposure identified in orbital images. Ever since we observed possible mud cracks at Old Soaker the rover team has been pursuing the idea that Curiosity is exploring strata that represent occasional dry-lake periods. As the rover drives further from the dunes, it is nice to be seeing more and more interesting rocks out the front window. The main activities in the plan that we’re sending up to the rover today include a 9×7 Mastcam mosaic of the rock outcrop “Jellison Cove”, MAHLI, APXS, and ChemCam on “Deer Isle”, and a second ChemCam analysis of “Calf Island”.
–Roger Wiens, ChemCam Principal Investigator