5 June 2017
Today was an interesting day of planning: because of an issue with the computer system responsible for processing data once it is received on Earth, Curiosity’s images and other data from Sol 1718 didn’t arrive until well into today’s planning. That meant that we had to keep the plan simple and respond rapidly once the data did arrive. It also meant that we had plenty of time to choose our favorite target names from the list!
Once the data started rolling in, we quickly chose a nice piece of bedrock in front of the rover for APXS and MAHLI to analyze and gave it the target name ‘Aunt Betsey’s Brook’. We also planned a ChemCam observation of a flaky layered rock called ‘Wonsqueak Harbor’ and a small Mastcam mosaic of a block of layered bedrock called ‘Little Round Pond’. After that, Curiosity will drive about 16 meters and collect post-drive imaging for targeting. After the drive we’ll also take a Mastcam image of the ground near the rover (part of the ongoing campaign to systematically look at the terrain we’re driving over), Mastcam images of the sun and the distant crater rim to study dust in the atmosphere, and an automatically targeted ChemCam observation. The plan will wrap up with the usual evening MARDI image of the ground under our wheels.
In the end, despite the delay in planning, we managed to put together the plan and turn it in early! We joked that we can’t keep being so efficient every day or else we’ll give the impression that we don’t need our full planning time anymore!
Written by Ryan Anderson, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center