12 May 2015
by Ken Herkenhoff
The Sol 981 drive got the rover around the troublesome ripples and to the desired location, which gave us a good view of the terrain ahead. Unfortunately, the images taken from the new location show more sandy ripples between the rover and the sharp transition between bright and dark rocks that we would would like to examine close up. So the plan for Sol 983 is to go around the ripples to the right and search for a safe path ahead. But first, ChemCam will test its new focusing software, using the RMI to find the best focus position for LIBS analyses of the onboard calibration targets. The biggest challenge for me as SOWG Chair today was prioritizing data for downlink, as the data volume expected via MRO is much less than usual. We will probably receive the images most urgently needed to plan the next drive, but not the results of the ChemCam software tests. This will delay the return of ChemCam to “normal” operations. But the near-term focus will likely be on driving, so there will be few opportunities for ChemCam observations anyway.
Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.