16 May 2015
by Ken Herkenhoff
Once again, excessive wheel slippage prevented MSL from driving as far as planned, so the tactical team decided to take a break from driving to allow various options to be studied in more detail. The rover is tilted 21 degrees, the highest tilt of the mission so far, on the flank of a small ridge. The vehicle is high enough on the ridge that the terrain to the southwest is visible in Sol 984 Navcam images, allowing more complete evaluation of a traverse in that direction.
The Sol 985 plan includes ChemCam observations of a nearby rock called “Una” to test the newly-installed ChemCam autofocus software. Of course we are hoping this test goes well and that ChemCam will return to more normal operations soon. Mastcam will also observe Una, as well as the ripples and small rocks near the rover, and outcrops toward the south. The usual atmospheric monitoring observations round out the plan.
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.