9 August 2017
Welcome back to the first full day of operations after conjunction and the fifth anniversary of landing! Curiosity remained healthy over the month long break, so without missing a beat, Curiosity is ready to resume the Vera Rubin Ridge imaging campaign and the trek up Mt. Sharp.
First in this plan, several drill feed tests will be performed and will take up the bulk of the plan’s time. The GEO group resumes regular science activities by investigating a couple of targets with Mastcam to look for changes over conjunction, including ‘Bodge Sands’ and ‘Machias Bay.’ ChemCam will target ‘Huckins Ledge’ and ‘Mackerel Ledge,’ with Mastcam providing additional imaging of those targets. Tuesday is a ‘soliday‘ to adjust the timing of the slightly longer Mars day back to a regular Earth schedule, so there will be no tactical planning.
Waiting for conjunction to finish requires patience from everyone, but it is especially frustrating for ENV. Unlike the GEO group who can confidently know that all the science in front of them before conjunction will still be there once regular communication resumes, the weather on Mars keeps happening regardless of whether we actively direct Curiosity to observe or not. So as ESTLK, I included several cadence observations in this first plan back to ensure that the gap of environmental observations was as short as possible. Navcam will image for clouds (like the clouds in the above image from Sol 1758), scan for dust devils across the crater basin, and measure the LOS extinction of dust towards the crater rim. REMS will continue its usual five-minute, top-of-the-hour blocks along with seven hour-long extended blocks, including two HRIM (High Resolution Interval Mode) measurements. DAN will take a long passive measurement.
Written by Michael Battalio, Atmospheric Scientist at Texas A&M University