25 November 2015

Sols 1177-1179: Recipe for a successful rover plan

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Sol 1174 Navcam of dune

The 28 m drive on Sol 1174 ran successfully and Curiosity is now parked in front of a beautiful sand sheet and sand dune!

Today science and engineering teams cooked up a full 3-sol plan, to account for the second half of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  The team started with equal parts Mastcam and ChemCam to analyze the sand and bedrock, and to monitor the movement of sand across the rover deck and in nearby ripples.  The meat of the plan consists of SAM preconditioning, drop off of the “Greenhorn” drill sample to SAM, and an EGA (evolved gas analysis).  Essentially that means that we’ll heat the sample up in an oven and measure the major gases that are released.  Since this is a very power intensive activity, we kept the sides to a minimum.  On the third sol we planned a healthy dose of MAHLI wheel imaging to monitor wear and tear.  We also added in a handful of post-drive imaging activities since the wheel imaging requires us to move slightly and we want to have updated information for targeting.  And we squeezed in an additional Mastcam change detection experiment to monitor the ripples on the third sol.  Sprinkled throughout the plan are our standard RAD and REMS and DAN measurements.  Add in a dash of excitement about the opportunity to study active dunes on another planet, and it’s sure to be a great weekend on Mars.

By Lauren Edgar

–Lauren is a Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of MSL science team.

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.