6 July 2015

Sol 1033-1036: Independence Day Planning!

Posted by Ryan Anderson

To paraphrase our SOWG chair’s paraphrasing of the Declaration of Independence at the start of today’s SOWG meeting: “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to plan a 4 sol plan, we assemble a group of patriots to make that plan. And that’s what we did today!”

Today I was back on duty as KOP and Ken was on duty for ChemCam science. As usual, it was a busy planning day! After much discussion of what to analyze with ChemCam, we decided to do a 3×3 measurement of the target “Snow Bowl” to see if we could hit some large bright grains in the rock there (similar to the ones you can see in the MAHLI image above), as well as a 3×3 observation of the “Lumpry” target that APXS analyzed yesterday. We also had a Mastcam stereo mosaic of some of the nearby layered rocks. We also have some Mastcam observations of the sun, and a Navcam observation watching for clouds.

One of the trickiest things today was deciding how to schedule our Mastcam and ChemCam observations so that no Mastcam images were taken while ChemCam was turned on. (We try to avoid this because it makes things a lot more complicated). The problem was, we wanted to use ChemCam do a “passive” observation of the sky and then we were planning to do a coordinated observation that involves taking Mastcam multispectral images before and after zapping the target “Thunderbolt” with ChemCam. We solved the problem by moving the “before” Mastcam images so that they occur at the same time of day, but on the previous sol. That way we could go straight from the ChemCam sky observation to zapping the rock target without having to do any Mastcam in between. Solving challenges like this to maximize our science return is a lot of what is involved in day-to-day rover planning.

On sol 1035, while we in the U.S. are celebrating Independence Day, the rover will drive back toward where we were on Sol 991 while doing some DAN measurements. Then on sol 1036 the rover will rest and recharge with a day dedicated to routine REMS measurements. 

By Ryan Anderson

-Ryan is a planetary scientist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the ChemCam team on MSL.

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.