23 December 2015

Sol 1202-1213: Holidays on Earth, Busy Days on Mars

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Mastcam view of the arm in the position where the fault occurred. The dump pile is visible just beyond the arm.

Today’s plan is a four sol Holiday plan covering Sol 1202-1205, and it will be followed by some pre-planned activities to take us all the way until Sol 1214 and the new year here on Earth, so there’s a lot to talk about!

On Sol 1202, we will first repeat the ChemCam RMI and Mastcam change detection images that we’ve been acquiring of the nearby dunes.  Then the arm will finish its sample dumping and cleaning activities, and MAHLI will take some images of the dump pile and APXS will analyze it. The following sol, we will repeat some of the Mastcam change detection observations. Mastcam will also re-take some of the dune images from the recent 360 degree panorama with different exposure and focus settings. ChemCam has two laser analyses of the targets “Aus” and “Aukas” and Mastcam will take some supporting images as always. After that, we’ll take one more MAHLI image of the dump pile and then stow the arm.

Around noon on Sol 1204, ChemCam will collect some atmospheric observations (with the laser turned off), plus observations of the “Greenhorn” dump pile with the laser off and then with the laser on. Mastcam will also observe the dump pile, using all of its different color filters. In the afternoon, Mastcam will measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere by looking at the sun, and will take some images of the rover’s deck to see if any sand from the dunes has blown up onto it. Navcam will search for dust devils and look at the horizon to measure the dust in the atmosphere. Next, the rover will adjust its position slightly so that REMS can get better wind measurements and Navcam, Mastcam, and MARDI will take the standard documentation images after the drive.

Sol 1205 will be a light day. The rover will take some measurements to update our knowledge of its tilt and orientation, and REMS will collect atmospheric measurements.  Sols 1206-1213 have been pre-planned and will be pretty similar to Sol 1205, with REMS, DAN, and Mastcam environmental monitoring measurements.

While the rover is doing all of this, most of the rover team will be taking some time off to spend the holidays with friends and family, though some of us will also be working on abstracts for the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, which are due the second week in January!

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.