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13 June 2017

Sol 1727 Blog: Little bit of everything

After a successful drive, our parking spot included a nice patch of Murray bedrock to allow us to perform contact science (MAHLI and APXS) in today’s plan. Our target for contact science is ‘Jones Marsh,’ a dark patch of the Murray that you can see just above the rightmost corner of Curiosity’s mast shadow in the Navcam image.

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12 June 2017

Sol 1726: First Look at Vera Rubin Ridge

After great anticipation over the last few weeks, the drive in the current plan will bring us into position for stop 1 of our close look at the northern face of the hematite-bearing Vera Rubin Ridge. Mastcam will take a wide mosaic to begin documenting the sedimentary structure of the ridge.

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11 June 2017

Sol 1725: Curiosity’s four day weekend

On most weekends, Curiosity dedicates part of her efforts to do contact science – deployment of APXS, MAHLI, and sometimes the DRT – because multi-sol weekend plans have more time and power to fit in these more complex activities. Last weekend, however, time and power were dedicated to a more rare, and more complex, activity – analysis of a previously-drilled rock sample by SAM.

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8 June 2017

Sols 1722-1724: Leftovers for Dinner

Almost the entirety of the first two sols (1722 and 1723) are dedicated to a SAM analysis of a ‘doggy bagged’ sample from the Quela drill hole collected back in September 2016 (Sol 1464). Several times in the mission we’ve saved samples from our drill locations to analyze later.

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7 June 2017

Sol 1720: Rough Road Ahead

I was the Surface Properties Scientist, or SPS on staff today. The SPS has an interesting job, in that the SPS helps Rover Planners (called RPs) assess the terrain around the rover with safety in mind, first and foremost.

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Sol 1721: An easier planning day

MSL drove 26 meters on Sol 1720, as planned, to a location with blocks of bedrock in the arm workspace. Because the rover climbed another 3 meters in elevation, contact science has top priority for today’s plan, with driving next in priority.

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30 May 2017

Sol 1713: Not enough hours in the sol

Our Tuesday drive placed us perfectly in front of a very interesting outcrop that looked slightly different in color and texture from the typical Murray rocks we’ve been seeing for the last few hundred meters.

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21 May 2017

Planning Sol 1705 – 1706: Rocky Road

Curiosity is continuing to make progress towards Vera Rubin Ridge along the Mt Sharp ascent route.  We planned two sols today, Sol 1705 and Sol 1706.  On our first sol, we will kick off the day with some remote sensing science on the bedrock in front of us, including ChemCam observations of targets ‘Turtle Island’, ‘Stony Brook’, and ‘Dike Peak’.  Turtle Island is typical Murray bedrock, Stony Brook has an …

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8 August 2016

Sol 1421: Determining drill activities at Marimba

On Sol 1420 we planned a full drill hole on the target “Marimba” to characterize the composition of the Murray mudstone in this location.  However, we came in early this morning to find that the drill hole didn’t penetrate very far into this rock target, as seen in the above MAHLI image.  We’re trying to evaluate why this drill hole is different, and what prevented the drill from completing as …

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1 July 2015

Sol 1031: A Dog’s Eye View at Missoula

  By Lauren Edgar  Today we planned some MAHLI imaging along the contact near the “Missoula” target (the ledge in the upper left portion of this Navcam image).  We refer to it as a dog’s eye mosaic, meaning that we use the MAHLI camera to take a series of images along a vertical face – essentially sticking our nose in there to get a good view.  Hopefully it will provide …

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11 May 2015

Sols 980-982: Dodging Sand, Updating ChemCam

by Ryan Anderson The Sol 978 drive stopped after going only a couple meters instead of the expected ~19 meters because Curiosity detected that its wheels were slipping in the sand. The rover periodically takes pictures of its surroundings while driving to make sure that it is actually moving forward and its wheels are not just spinning in place. This was a lesson learned years ago when the Opportunity rover …

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17 May 2011

5th Mars Science Laboratory Landing Site Workshop Info

Hi folks, I don’t have much time to write a full post since I have some last minute changes to make to my talk before tomorrow morning, but I wanted to share some info about the workshop for those who want to play along at home. First, if you’re on the Twitter, there are several people at the meeting or following it online, using the hashtag #MSLsite. Speaking of following …

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30 March 2011

First Image of Mercury from Orbit

MESSENGER just returned the first image of Mercury ever taken from orbit around the planet!

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17 March 2011

Orbiting Mercury

In a little over 12 hours, the spacecraft MESSENGER will finally be orbiting the planet Mercury. It’s been a long trip: MESSENGER launched way back in August of 2004 and has spent the intervening time doing flybys of Earth, Venus and Mercury. To date it has gone almost 4.9 billion miles.

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8 March 2011

Planetary Decadal Survey

Last night Steve Squyres unveiled the results of the Planetary Science Decadal Survey. The decadal is a massive document used to chart the course of planetary science for the next ten years, and it drew a huge crowd here at the conference. This decadal was different from previous ones because it specifically was tasked with coming up with a list of missions that would be achievable with the funding available …

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15 February 2011

Latest Stardust NExT Images

Images are still trickling down from the successful flyby of comet Tempel 1 last night. Here is the latest image: You can start to see some details in this one! I was amused to see that the NASA website listing the new images claims that this was taken from a distance of 587.8 trillion miles away! If something looks wrong about that number to you, you’re right. That’s equivalent to …

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14 February 2011

Stardust NExT’s Date with a Comet

Apparently NASA has a rule that the comet Tempel 1 can only be visited on holidays. Back in 2005, on the 4th of July, the Deep Impact spacecraft flew by Tempel 1 and smashed an 816 pound copper bullet into the comet. And now this Valentine’s Day the Stardust spacecraft is taking a look at the aftermath.

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28 January 2011

Remembering Challenger

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Challenger shuttle explosion. I was too young to remember the disaster, but it has had a lasting effect on our space program, and I certainly remember the Columbia disaster which occurred when I was an undergraduate. It’s tempting when these sorts of things happen to say that space exploration is too dangerous and too hard and that we should turn back. But that’s exactly the wrong response.

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17 January 2011

NASA TV Spot

I’ve voiced my frustration with NASA TV and the fact that NASA isn’t allowed to make self-promotional TV ads before. Luckily, there are a lot of people out there who are passionate about space, and some of them have video editing skills and access to the internet. So, even though we might never see an ad like this on TV, it at least can go viral online!

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3 January 2011

AGU 2010 – Days 3 and 4: Exoplanets, Impact Basins and Alteration

Now that it’s a New Year, it’s time I wrapped up my AGU 2010 recaps. This post covers Wednesday and Thursday, with lots of good stuff about super-earth exoplanets, impacts on the Moon and Mars, and lasers on Venus!

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