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Curiosity Mission Updates

NASA Mars Rover Curiosity: Mission Updates. Provided by mission team members from USGS Astrogeology Science Center

Sol 1617: Re-attempt the drive

February 22, 2017 - Wednesday


The drive planned for Sol 1616 halted early, apparently because the right rear wheel got stuck between two rocks.  The mobility team concluded that it is safe to continue, so the drive planned for Sol 1617 is essentially the same as the previously-planned drive.  Before the drive, ChemCam and Right Mastcam will observe a sand target named "New Sweden" and Right Mastcam will acquire mosaics of a layered bedrock outcrop dubbed "Hobbstown" and of the dunes that are the target of the drive. Mastcam will also measure dust in the atmosphere before the drive begins.  After the drive and more testing of the drill, along with post-drive imaging to support planning on Wednesday, ChemCam will use AEGIS to select a target for chemical analysis. 


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.


Sols 1614-1616: Delayed planning

February 17, 2017 - Friday

The Sol 1612 drive went well, and there is a nice bedrock block in the arm workspace.  We received a bit more data than expected before planning started, but not enough to finalize drive plans and contact science targets.  As expected, we received more data during planning, including color images of the arm workspace that were very useful in selecting contact science targets.  The late arrival of the necessary data caused delays in the standard uplink planning timeline, but the tactical team did a great job and we have an excellent weekend plan.  It's good to see REMS extended blocks back in the plan after the successful software upgrade. 

On Sol 1614, ChemCam and Right Mastcam will observe bedrock targets named "Columbia Falls," "Spider Lake," and "Loon Stream."  Mastcam will measure dust in the atmosphere and acquire a 3x3 mosaic of a layered block dubbed "Aroostook River."  Late that afternoon, MAHLI will image the REMS UV sensor and acquire mosaics of another bedrock target named "Chain Lakes" and of Spider Lake.  The APXS will then measure the chemistry of the Spider Lake area at overlapping locations to look for spatial variations in composition.  Early the next morning, Mastcam will again measure dust in the atmosphere and Navcam will search for clouds.  Later on Sol 1615, more drill diagnostic tests are planned, then the APXS will be placed on its calibration target for an overnight integration.  A short drive to the dark dunes south of the rover is planned on Sol 1616, followed by unstowing the arm and post-drive imaging.  Another busy (sometimes hectic) day for me as SOWG Chair!

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.


Sols 1612-1613: Planning challenges

February 16, 2017 - Thursday

After a 23-meter drive on Sol 1611, MSL again ended up in an area with many bedrock blocks partly covered by dark sand.  We're planning two sols today to get a head start on planning for the holiday weekend, with the first sol strategically planned to allow the "touch and go" option.  But there's a ridge about 30 meters ahead that we can't see over, and we would like to be able to drive up onto it on Sol 1612 to allow a drive past it to be planned this weekend.  There isn't enough time before the "decisional" telecommunications opportunity to fit both contact science and a 30-meter drive into the plan, so we had to pick one of these two options.  Based on images taken from orbit and by the rover, lots of bedrock is exposed at the crest of the ridge 30 meters away, so we picked the longer drive at the expense of contact science today, hoping that the rover will be in a better place for contact science this weekend.  Before the drive, ChemCam and Right Mastcam will observe a bright/dark boundary on a block at the left side of the image above (dubbed "Frenchville"), and Right Mastcam will acquire a 2x2 mosaic of another block named "Third Lake."  After the drive, we're planning fewer images to support weekend planning because the expected downlink data volume is much less than usual.  We therefore spent more time than usual carefully prioritizing the post-drive images for downlink, and may not receive all of the data we need to plan contact science and a drive this weekend. 

Later in the afternoon of Sol 1612, ChemCam will again use AEGIS to autonomously select a LIBS target and acquire a 3x3 set of chemical measurements.  The REMS software upgrade went well, so REMS environmental monitoring is being planned again today!  On Sol 1613, ChemCam will acquire passive calibration data, and Navcam will search for dust devils and clouds.  Finally, the rover will sleep overnight in preparation for what we hope will be a busy weekend plan.  The issues described above made for a challenging day for me as SOWG Chair!

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.


Sol 1611: Patch Mountain

February 15, 2017 - Wednesday

MSL drove almost 27 meters on Sol 1610 to a location with several potential targets, so the planning team spent some time discussing priorities.  A dark patch of bedrock, appropriately named "Patch Mountain" was chosen for ChemCam, Right Mastcam, and MAHLI observations.  The MAHLI imaging was moved after the ChemCam observation so that the LIBS impact spots would be visible.  An additional MAHLI image was added to the standard full suite, to provide a 3-image mosaic from 5 cm.  Then the rover will drive again, and take images afterward to enable planning more activities on Sol 1612.  Just before sunset, Navcam will search for dust devils and REMS will complete the second part of their flight software update. 

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.


Sol 1610: Finishing up at Ireson Hill

February 14, 2017 - Tuesday

The activities planned for Sol 1609 went well, and MAHLI focus data indicate that high-resolution images of Perry were successfully acquired.  So we're ready to drive away from Ireson Hill after some more remote sensing of the rocks in front of the rover.  The Sol 1610 plan starts with some more drill diagnostic tests, then the arm will be moved out of the way for remote sensing.  ChemCam and Right Mastcam will observe a bedrock exposure named "Fogelin" that shows subtle color variations, and Mastcam will acquire multispectral sets of images of yesterday's contact science targets Perry and Spurwink.  As more Sol 1609 data were returned during planning this morning, the Mastcam team noticed that the Right Mastcam image of Edmunds was blocked by the arm, so this activity will be repeated on Sol 1610 with the arm out of the way.  Mastcam will also measure dust in the atmosphere before the drive and standard post-drive imaging.  Later in the afternoon, Navcam will search for dust devils and clouds, and ChemCam will acquire some calibration data.  REMS will take a break from the usual environmental monitoring to update their flight software. 

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.


Sol 1609: Passagassawakeag and other challenges

February 13, 2017 - Monday

MSL 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 3x1 mosaic of the Perry area, single images of rocks near the top of the hill named "Gonic," "Kineo," and "Edmunds," followed by an 8x4-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.


Sol 1604-1605: Toward Ireson Hill

February 10, 2017 - Friday

Navcam view of Ireson Hill

On Sol 1604 we wrapped up at the first stop of this second phase of the Bagnold Dune campaign. The plan started off, as usual for the dune campaign, with a pair of Mastcam images that were then repeated throughout the day to look for changes. ChemCam had an RMI of the target “Mapleton” and then Mastcam had a whole series of images of nearby sand formations. Once that was taken care of, we decided to drive back toward Ireson Hill so that we can take a closer look at some of the geology there. The drive was about 55 meters, followed by post-drive imaging.

In the 1605 plan, ChemCam’s laser is back in action with an analysis of the target “Carys Mills”. Mastcam will take a supporting image of the same target, as well as a small mosaic of the target “Calderwood”. We will then continue driving around the east side of Ireson hill toward our targets of interest, ending at a rock that may be part of the hill’s capping layer.

by Ryan Anderson

-Ryan is a planetary scientist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the ChemCam team on MSL.

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


Sols 1606-1608: Studying Ireson Hill

February 10, 2017 - Friday

Our drive on Sol 1605 was successful, putting us in a good position for weekend science on the northeast side of Ireson Hill. The sol 1606 plan starts off with ChemCam observations of “Quimby,” which appears to be a piece of cap rock that has tumbled down from the top of the hill, and a bedrock target “Quoddy”. Mastcam will take an image to document the ChemCam dataset that was automatically collected at the end of the Sol 1605 drive, as well as a mosaic of an area called “Castine”. APXS will then do an overnight analysis on “Quoddy” and “Pogy”.

Sol 1607 is not too busy: the main activity is a short science block with atmospheric observations using Navcam, ChemCam, and Mastcam. Sol 1608 makes up for it though. It starts off with ChemCam of the targets “Cushing” and “Bucksport”. Mastcam will document those two targets and then do some multispectral observations of “Quoddy”, “Quimby”, and “Jemtland”. We will wrap up Sol 1608 with some workspace images and a MARDI image of the ground under the rover.

by Ryan Anderson

-Ryan is a planetary scientist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the ChemCam team on MSL.

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


Sol 1603: Finishing at Stop 1

February 09, 2017 - Thursday

Yesterday’s plan went well, and ChemCam has run all of the planned diagnostics and will be back in action tomorrow! Similar to yestersol’s plan, the Sol 1603 plan begins with a pair of Mastcam observations which will be repeated throughout the day to look for any changes in the nearby sand. Mastcam also has multispectral observations of targets “Matagamon,” “Scarboro,” and “Flume Ridge”. Next, Mastcam has a mosaic of some interesting sand ripples. We will wrap up the early afternoon science block with Mastcam atmospheric observations and a Navcam dust devil movie.

After that, MAHLI will take a look at “Matagamon”, “West Branch”, “Flume Ridge”, “Dry Wall” and “McKenny”. That will be followed by an engineering test with APXS and an overnight APXS measurement of the target “Flume Ridge”. If all goes according to plan today, that will wrap up our observations at this location and we will move on to stop #2 of this second campaign to study Bagnold dunes.

by Ryan Anderson

-Ryan is a planetary scientist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the ChemCam team on MSL.

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


Sol 1602: Bagnold Dunes 2: Electric Boogaloo

February 07, 2017 - Tuesday

Navcam view of Bagnold dunes

The weekend plan went well and today we begin the second half of the campaign to study the “Bagnold Dunes”. The Sol 1602 plan starts off with two Mastcam mosaics of the dunes which will be repeated several times later in the sol to watch for changes. Navcam also has a dust devil monitoring observation in the morning science block. Around midday, Mastcam will do a couple of measurements to determine the amount of dust in the atmosphere, and ChemCam will do an active LIBS observation of the soil target “Mapleton” as the final step in the diagnostics that will allow it to return to active duty! In addition to change detection, Mastcam has a stereo image of some bedforms at “Flume Ridge,” a 9x2 mosaic of the interesting nearby dune field, and a 3x2 observation in support of the campaign to watch for dust devils. Later in the sol, MAHLI will have a field day, observing the targets “Scarboro”, “McKenny”, “Matagamon”, “Flume Ridge”, “The Forks”, and “West Branch”. The rest of the sol involves repeating the Mastcam change detection observations, going all the way until 7:30 in the evening.

by Ryan Anderson

-Ryan is a planetary scientist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the ChemCam team on MSL.

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


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