31 August 2015

Sol 1091: Lots of MAHLI targets

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Planning is no longer restricted, but we had to start at 6:00 PDT this morning to give the operations team enough time to uplink commands by the time the rover expects them.  Driving to work before sunrise reminded me of the sometimes odd times we had to wake up during the first 90 sols of the mission, when the entire operations team was on “Mars time.”

The team is very interested in the outcrop in front of the rover, so I had a very busy day as MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead today, even though we are planning just one sol.  We planned in advance for MAHLI nighttime imaging of CheMin‘s inlet and MAHLI‘s calibration target (using white and UV LEDs), so those activities were ready to go this morning.  But we had to prioritize and plan the details of observations of other contact science targets.  Because the Sol 1089 MAHLI images and APXS placement were not perfectly centered on the Buckskin dump pile, our top priority is to repeat those observations with updated positioning.  We planned MAHLI images of a target dubbed “Devon,” which will also be measured by APXS.  Many of the targets of interest are difficult to reach with the arm, so the rover planners requested relatively low-resolution MAHLI images of them to support planning of more contact science on Sol 1092.  These targets were named “Pentagon,” “Lebo,” “Ivanhoe,” and “Ledger,” with Ledger being imaged in stereo by Mastcam because it is a candidate for brushing with the DRT.  Finally, the APXS will be placed on the dump pile for overnight integration.

We had to put more thought than usual into prioritizing various data for downlink, as we expect only 38 Mbits of data before Sol 1092 planning begins tomorrow morning.  This situation forced us to compress some of the MAHLI images more than usual, and to create new command sequences.  But if all goes well, we will receive enough data tomorrow morning to plan contact science on multiple targets.

by Ken Herkenhoff

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.