1 December 2016
Unfortunately, the much-anticipated rotary-only drilling experiment did not even start due to a drill fault that is currently being investigated. This type of drill fault appears to be unrelated to the previous short circuits during percussion, but more study is needed. So the tactical planning team had to scramble to put together a plan while the drill experts work to recover from this anomaly. Luckily, the fault did not preclude non-drilling arm activities, so we picked the bright target “Thomas Bay” for contact science. We were also able to fit a lot of remote science observations into the plan: A Navcam cloud movie, a Right Mastcam mosaic of “Squid Cove,” Mastcam measurements of dust in the atmosphere, and a small Mastcam stereo mosaic of “Baldwin Corners.” At various times of day, Navcam and Mastcam will image the ground toward and opposite the azimuth of sunset to measure the photometric (light scattering) properties of the rocks and soils near the rover. ChemCam and the Right Mastcam will also observe bedrock target “Compass Harbor” and vein targets “Bartlett Narrows” and “Birch Point.” After drill diagnostics are performed, more Mastcam dust measurements and images of “Hulls Cove” and “Big Heath” are planned. It was a busy day for me and the other MAHLI uplink leads, as we had to modify our command sequences to take images with MAHLI‘s dust cover closed and find the best time to take images in full sunlight. Since the fine-grained Sebina sample was dumped, we are concerned about material blowing onto MAHLI‘s lens and sticking to it. Finally, the APXS will be placed on Thomas Bay for an overnight integration.
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.