13 February 2017

Sol 1609: Passagassawakeag and other challenges

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Curiosity drove a little over 9 meters on Sol 1608, to get the vehicle closer to Ireson Hill and the dark blocks that have rolled down from the top of the hill.  Two of these blocks are within reach of the arm, but both are challenging targets.  Even the name chosen for the dark block at the left side of the image above is difficult: “Passagassawakeag.”  It’s pointier that we would like for contact science, and the other dark block, dubbed “Perry” (at lower right in the image above), is close enough to the rover that there is a risk of collision with the arm.  Complicating the plan further, the best time to take MAHLI images of these targets is late in the afternoon, when they won’t be shadowed by the arm.  But the last chance to send data to Earth in time to make them available for planning tomorrow is earlier in the afternoon, making it difficult to return all of the data needed to respond to a possible arm fault.  Therefore, we decided to acquire a single MAHLI image of Passagassawakeag from a safe distance of 5 cm before the critical communications opportunity, and send it in case the full suite of MAHLI images of Perry planned later in the afternoon is not successful.  We would then be better able to plan contact science on Perry tomorrow if necessary.
The Sol 1609 plan starts with ChemCam and Right Mastcam observation of Passagassawakeag, a typical Murray bedrock exposure named “Spurwink,” and a more distant dark block called “Wassataquoik” (another tongue-twister).  Then the Right Mastcam will acquire a 3×1 mosaic of the Perry area, single images of rocks near the top of the hill named “Gonic,” “Kineo,” and “Edmunds,” followed by an 8×4-frame mosaic of the right side of the hill. Just before the MAHLI imaging of Perry, a full suite of MAHLI images, plus extra stereo frames, is planned on Spurwink.  After all of the MAHLI activities have been completed, the APXS will be placed on Perry for a pair of short integrations, then placed on Spurwink for an overnight integration.  Of course we are hoping that this complicated plan goes well!

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.