11 May 2016
Happy birthday, Curiosity! As of today, the rover has been on the surface of Mars for two Mars years (almost four Earth years)! To celebrate, we have a new press release discussing our ongoing environmental measurements. These sorts of systematic measurements become more useful the longer the rover is on the surface to collect them, because we can compare how conditions change from year to year.
Of course, we had other ways to celebrate too. Our French colleagues at CNES (Centre national d’études spatiales) made a Mars-themed cake, complete with a little rover exploring a delicious-looking cocoa-dusted martian surface!
The mission doesn’t stop for us to eat cake though. Today we planned Sols 1339 and 1340, continuing our drill campaign at the target “Okoruso.” On Sol 1339, MAHLI will observe a pile of drill tailings that was dumped without being sieved. CheMin will complete the analysis from the Sol 1338 plan, and APXS will make an overnight measurement of the dump pile. On Sol 1340, we have a targeted science block with ChemCam passive and active observations of the dump pile, and active observations of the targets “Kobos 2,” “Stampriet,” and “Swartmodder.” Mastcam will document those targets, and then Mastcam and Navcam will make some atmospheric dust observations.
Here’s to many more martian birthdays for our rover! We still have a long way to go to catch up with Opportunity’s >6.5 Mars years of activity!
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