24 October 2017
Our exploration of space, and Gale Crater specifically, is enabled by incredible technology and amazing engineers and scientists. But, circumstances constantly remind us that space is hard. It’s a hostile environment to both people and technology and we have to strive constantly to keep things working so we can continue to explore Gale Crater. Since last December, that has involved Curiosity’s team of engineers and scientists working to diagnose and then work-around a problem with the drill. That effort has made excellent progress and we hope to be able to drill Mars rocks again in the not-too-distant future! Associated with that is designing new methods to deliver samples of those rocks to Curiosity’s laboratories: CheMin and SAM. Mastcam imaged the inlets for SAM on the rover deck yestersol.
We prepared a packed science plan for Curiosity today, including a SAM analysis of a ‘doggy-bagged’ sample of martian sand from a location called ‘Ogunquit Beach’ that the rover visited months ago and a sure-to-be spectacular Mastcam panorama of the Gale Crater floor (‘Aeolis Palus’ in scientific jargon). However, space is hard, and some technical issues with NASA’s Deep Space Network of satellite dishes around the world prevented us from sending Curiosity its marching orders. But, those activities will hopefully be retried in the next few days.
Written by Scott Guzewich, Atmospheric Scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center