16 November 2015
Unfortunately, our plans for the weekend were thwarted by a problem with the Deep Space Network that prevented the plans from being sent to the rover. As someone on the team pointed out in response to the issue, this just goes to show how many steps in the process have to go just right for us to be able to operate a rover on Mars, and it’s pretty impressive that these sorts of issues are as rare as they are.
Given its lack of instructions, Curiosity spent the weekend in “runout” mode. Runout mode mostly consists of environmental monitoring. Since the weekend plan was not uplinked, much of today’s plan contains repeats of what we tried to do over the weekend.
In the sol 1166 plan, ChemCam has observations of the targets “Zaris” and “Swakop”, and Mastcam has a 5×4 mosaic of “Swakop” and its surroundings. Then we have a block of arm activities to allow MAHLI to take some images of the targets “Swartkloofberg” and “Swakop”. This will be followed by brushing the dust off of Swartkloofberg, taking some more MAHLI images, and then placing APXS on Swartkloofberg to analyze it overnight.
Meanwhile, this week is the ChemCam team meeting here at USGS in Flagstaff! Since much of the team will be busy with the meeting, ChemCam activities this week will be kept to just two or three per day. The meeting also means that Ken, Lauren, and I will be extra busy this week so we won’t be blogging every day even though operations will be happening daily.
-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.