15 August 2012
What time is it on Mars? Science Time.
Posted by Ryan Anderson
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 also has the advantage that it is mounted on the mast and you don’t need to use the huge and complex arm and sampling system to get the data.
Because ChemCam can collect data in these early days, things are about to get very busy for me. I’ve already been struggling to get my operations shifts done and also do pesky things like eating and sleeping. Believe it or not, blogging takes up quite a bit of time, which I usually have to shoehorn in at the end of the day when I should be sleeping. And so far we haven’t gathered much scientific data. My days are only going to get more complicated as more instruments come online and start returning results.
I think you see where I’m going with this. The time has come to take a break from blogging and dig into the science. The other reason for this is that the daily press conferences have stopped, and there just won’t be as much for me to share with you on a daily basis.
While I have my head buried in ChemCam data, I’ll point you toward the Planetary Society blog and Unmanned Spaceflight, two of the best sources of information about Curiosity (and other missions!) out there.
There’s little doubt in my mind that this rover, because its technological sophistication, will finally answer the question if life exists on Mars or has existed.