8 January 2017

Sols 1572-1574: New diagnostics

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Curiosity drove nearly 17 meters on Sol 1571, to a location with bedrock outcrops in the arm workspace. So the weekend plan includes lots of arm work as well as remote observations.  On Sol 1572, MAHLI will take images of the REMS booms to diagnose recent problems with the wind sensors. Some of the wind sensors on one boom have not functioned since landing, and sensors on the other boom have been acting up lately.  Later that afternoon, MAHLI will take a couple images of a yellow/red color boundary at “Greenstone” and a full suite of images of a yellow bedrock target named “Isle Au Haut.”  The APXS will then be placed on Isle Au Haut for an overnight integration. Early on the morning of Sol 1573, Navcam will search for clouds and Mastcam will measure the amount of dust in the air by imaging the Sun and the distant crater rim.  These dust measurements will be repeated at two other times of day later that sol. Later that morning, ChemCam will acquire passive (no laser) observations of its calibration target.  Then the arm will go to work again to perform new diagnostic tests of the drill feed mechanism, to help us understand whether the drill feed stall is more sensitive to rotary-only or percussive drilling.  The test data acquired to date indicate an intermittent problem with the internal brake within the motor that feeds the drill forward and backward relative to the rest of the turret. Fortunately, we are able to do everything except drilling while the investigation continues, but the team has decided not to try again to drill at Precipice, and to continue driving up the flank of Aeolis Mons (“Mount Sharp”).

After the drill tests, ChemCam will perform some more calibration activities, and acquire LIBS data on Greenstone and a bedrock exposure called “Birch Harbor Mountain.”  The Right Mastcam will then image these targets and bright vein targets dubbed “Tarrantine” and “Flying Mountain.”  On Sol 1574, ChemCam and Right Mastcam will observe Isle Au Haut before the rover drives away.  After the drive, the arm will be unstowed and Navcam will take a stereo pair of images of the arm workspace to set us up for possible contact science on Sol 1575.  It will be another busy weekend for our intrepid rover!

By Ken Herkenhoff

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.