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3 March 2017

Sols 1627-1629: Driving again

Good news: the MAHLI cover was successfully opened and the instrument is marked healthy again. That means it’s time to close the cover, and if that’s successful, drive away toward the next stop in the Bagnold Dunes Campaign.



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22 February 2017

Sol 1617: Re-attempt the drive

The drive planned for Sol 1616 halted early, apparently because the right rear wheel got stuck between two rocks. The mobility team concluded that it is safe to continue, so the drive planned for Sol 1617 is essentially the same as the previously-planned drive.



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22 August 2016

Sols 1439-1440: Target names that start with Q

Our weekend drive halted a little bit early, but everything is looking good and we will continue to drive in today’s plan. We will start off the Sol 1439 plan with ChemCam observations of the layered rock targets “Quibala” and “Quibaxe.” Mastcam will then image Quibala, followed by a whole bunch of mosaics documenting the stratigraphy in the nearby buttes as well as the locations called “Quibaxe,” “Quipungo” and “Quicombo.” …



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15 August 2016

Sol 1432: Crossing the sand

The weekend plan went well, so the plan for Sol 1432 is to keep driving! Curiosity will go about 52 meters across a patch of sand, but before that we have a short science block. ChemCam will observe the target “Longa” and Mastcam has two mosaics of the nearby buttes. After the drive, we have post-drive imaging, and some onboard data processing of the MAHLI images of the “Marimba” drill …



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11 May 2016

Sols 1339-1340: Two Mars Years!

Happy birthday, Curiosity! As of today, the rover has been on the surface of Mars for two Mars years (almost four Earth years)! To celebrate, we have a new press release discussing our ongoing environmental measurements. These sorts of systematic measurements become more useful the longer the rover is on the surface to collect them, because we can compare how conditions change from year to year. Of course, we had …



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23 December 2015

Sol 1202-1213: Holidays on Earth, Busy Days on Mars

Today’s plan is a four sol Holiday plan covering Sol 1202-1205, and it will be followed by some pre-planned activities to take us all the way until Sol 1214 and the new year here on Earth, so there’s a lot to talk about! On Sol 1202, we will first repeat the ChemCam RMI and Mastcam change detection images that we’ve been acquiring of the nearby dunes.  Then the arm will …



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17 December 2015

Sols 1196-1197: Aeolian paradise

On Sol 1194 Curiosity drove 47 m around the lee side of “Namib Dune.”  The latest Navcam images reveal many beautiful aeolian features on the slipface and interdune deposits. In today’s 2-sol plan, we’ll continue driving around “Namib Dune.”  On the first sol we’ll use ChemCam to assess the composition and grain size of a ripple.  Then we’ll use Mastcam to image the brink of the dune and its slipface …



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15 December 2015

Sols 1194-1195: Driving around “Namib Dune”

Over the weekend Curiosity drove 42 m closer to “Namib Dune, and the view is pretty spectacular.  We’ve received a lot of beautiful Mastcam and Navcam images, which can be found here. In today’s 2-sol plan, we’ll continue driving around the “Namib Dune” to get to the lee side.  It was a pretty straightforward day for me as GSTL, and Ken as the MAHLI/MARDI PUL.  On the first sol Curiosity …



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25 November 2015

Sols 1177-1179: Recipe for a successful rover plan

The 28 m drive on Sol 1174 ran successfully and Curiosity is now parked in front of a beautiful sand sheet and sand dune! Today science and engineering teams cooked up a full 3-sol plan, to account for the second half of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  The team started with equal parts Mastcam and ChemCam to analyze the sand and bedrock, and to monitor the movement of sand across the …



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26 April 2011

Why Read (Speculative) Fiction?

Today I gave a two-part guest lecture to a bunch of Cornell freshmen. The first part of the lecture was The Science of Red Mars, which you can read about over here. But since this writing seminar (taught by my officemate) might be the only course that some of these students take which involves reading fiction and writing about it, my officemate encouraged me to talk a bit in general about reading fiction, and particularly speculative fiction. I figured that since I already put together the guest lecture I might as well post it here!



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