22 December 2015
Based on the latest images from Navcam, Hazcam, and Mastcam it looks like at least some of the “Greenhorn” sample was dumped before the arm ran into difficulties.The plan for sol 1201 has a lot of diagnostics to help our engineers to better understand what happened with the arm. It is very likely that the arm hardware is OK, but the diagnostics will allow us to avoid this problem in the future.
In addition to arm diagnostics, we still have science to do in the sol 1201 plan! Mastcam has a 10×2 mosaic to study the fine layers in a nearby outcrop, and ChemCam has a 2×2 “depth profile” observation of the target “Matchless_2”. For a depth profile, the laser fires 150 times per location rather than just 30 times, allowing us to see how the composition changes as the laser removes tiny amounts of material. Mastcam will take an image of Matchless_2 after the depth profile. On Sol 1202, we have a bunch of change detection observations of the nearby dune with Mastcam and ChemCam’s RMI.
Since some of the Greenhorn sample was dumped, we want to get the arm operational again as soon as possible so that the dumped sample can be analyzed before the martian wind blows it away. We’re hoping that will be possible in tomorrow’s plan!
-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.