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12 November 2019

With Mars methane mystery unsolved, Curiosity serves scientists a new one: Oxygen

For the first time in the history of space exploration, scientists have measured the seasonal changes in the gases that fill the air directly above the surface of Gale Crater on Mars. As a result, they noticed something baffling: oxygen, the gas many Earth creatures use to breathe, behaves in a way that so far scientists cannot explain through any known chemical processes.


8 October 2019

Sol 2549: A Slow Monday on Earth, but an Exhausting One on Mars

Despite the simplicity of today’s planning on Earth, the rover has a lot to get done before tomorrow. Let’s just hope all the activity doesn’t “exhaust” her… it’s only Monday, after all!


5 October 2019

Sols 2546-2547: Brrrr – Is It Frosty?

Communicating with Curiosity requires creating a plan and transmitting it through various networks, including the Deep Space Network. Sometimes, one of these networks is down, and our plan does not get to the rover.


2 October 2019

Sol 2545: SAM Clean-Up and a Potpourri of Remote Sensing and Environmental Observations

Curiosity is continuing through its list of analysis details that take place after taking a drill sample. Today’s main activity is a SAM gas chromatograph column clean-up. Meanwhile, there is time to take environmental observations and more remote-sensing data.


30 September 2019

Sol 2540-2542: Go, SAM, go!

Curiosity’s late afternoon view: This image was taken by the Front Hazard Avoidance Camera onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 2536 (2019-09-25 00:12:06 UTC). It shows the same view as the image in the sols 2538-2539 blog, just in a very different light!


Sol 2543: Dumping Dirt on its Back

This image shows nine laser pits forming a line down the “Glen Etive 2” drill hole. Shock waves from the laser impact at the lowest point cleared debris that had settled at the bottom of the hole to allow analysis of the hole wall at that depth.


26 September 2019

Sols 2538-2539: An Intermission Filled with Remote Sensing

Today started off with the news that yestersol’s plan did not fully complete. There was an issue in the set of planned SAM activities that resulted in those activities not completing. While we diagnose the issue, we are taking a break from drill activities and filling the plan with lots of remote science.


24 September 2019

Sols 2536-2537: SAM Wet Chemistry Experiment

Searching for organic molecules in rocks on Mars is no easy task. Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument is designed to analyze the chemical composition of gases, which it creates by slowly heating rock samples in an oven.


20 September 2019

Sols 2533-2535: SAM’s Starring Role!

Planning for this past week has centered on analyzing the high potassium drill sample, Glen Etive 2, using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument.


19 September 2019

Sol 2531 – 2532: Three Portions to Inlet 1 and Straight on till SAM

In Monday’s plan, we did portion drop tests of our ‘Glen Etive 2’ drill sample, and this morning we were greeted with nice images of the sample piles.


17 September 2019

Sols 2529-2530: #23!

Please welcome our 23rd drill hole on Mars! Coming in at ~43 mm depth, and both the rover and new drill hole are happy and healthy!


16 September 2019

Sols 2525-2528: Go for Drilling at Glen Etive 2!

After studying the results from the ‘Glen Etive 1’ drill hole over conjunction, the team has decided to proceed with a second drill hole at a nearby location, dubbed ‘Glen Etive 2,’ (see above image) on the same rock slab. This second drill will allow us to do a more detailed set of SAM and CheMin analyses to better understand the composition of this rock.


11 September 2019

Sol 2524: The Tail(ings)-end of the Glen Etive 1 Drilling Campaign

The focus of Curiosity’s activities since returning to operations after conjunction, now that Mars has safely moved out from behind the sun, is to finish up the analyses associated with the drilling campaign at ‘Glen Etive 1.’


10 September 2019

Sol 2523: Picking Up Where We Left Off

Today is our first planning sol following solar conjunction. For the past few weeks, Mars and Earth have been on opposite sides of the Sun, preventing routine communications with Curiosity. Our rover spent most of the time sleeping, with some routine environmental monitoring with REMS and RAD and occasional Hazcam images like the one shown.


23 August 2019

Sols 2506-2508: Until we meet again

Today was the final opportunity to actively command Curiosity before the Sun comes between us and Mars. Most of the instruments are safely stored for the solar conjunction break, but intrepid Navcam was available for some last-minute science observations.


22 August 2019

Sols 2504-2505: Packing up for our journey behind the Sun

The days leading up to a big trip can be hectic. There are preparations to be made, belongings to be packed, extra work to do in anticipation of being away from the computer. And it’s no different for a robot on the surface of Mars.


21 August 2019

Study provides new clues to source of methane gas on Mars

A team of researchers led by scientists at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering has created a model of how methane changes on Mars throughout the day by using data from a satellite, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and the Curiosity Rover. In the past, each had measured significantly different amounts of methane on Mars. The new measurements provide more clues that could help to understand what processes are important in creating the methane coming from a large 154 km- wide crater on the planet, Gale crater.


20 August 2019

Sol 2502-2503: Science to Exhaustion

Mars is about to be hidden behind the Sun, so Curiosity is rushing to get science done before communications are temporarily lost.


16 August 2019

Sol 2499-2501: More SAMple analysis

Conjunction is the few-week period when Mars goes behind the sun and we stop communicating with our spacecraft that are there. Our last planning day before conjunction will be next Friday, and thinking about that fast approaching day feels very similar to thinking about getting ready to leave for vacation.


13 August 2019

Sols 2495-2496: A slight change of plans

It’s the end of another week on Mars, and today we put together a 3 sol weekend plan for Curiosity. Given the RSM-related issues that we incurred this past week, we are still being cautious, but the diagnostic testing that ran in the last plan was successful.