Astrogeology Science Center

Sol 3 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Navcam Panorama

8 August 2012
        Another good day on Mars:  MSL's remote sensing mast was successfully
deployed, and a Navcam panorama acquired.  Not all of the images have been
sent to Earth yet, but those that have been received are very useful for
planning future observations.  In addition, more full-resolution descent images have been received, showing the heat shield soon after it was jettisoned and the surface close-up after landing.  Hundreds of MARDI images like these were acquired during descent and landing, and it will take weeks to months to send them back to Earth.  But when they are
received, the full-resolution animation of the descent sequence will be spectacular.  This has been the theme of the mission so far--we must be patient.
        Today was my last shift this month as Science Uplink Representative,
and planning went well again.  The plan for Sol 3 included a Mastcam color
panorama which will have about 4x better resolution than the Navcam black
and white panorama.  The plan also includes checkouts of 4 of the
instruments that have not been turned on since landing:  the Alpha Particle
X-ray Spectrometer (APXS), which will measure elemental chemistry; the
Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) experiment, which will measure the
abundance of hydrogen (water) up to 1 m below the surface; CheMin, an X-ray
diffraction and fluorescence instrument that will determine the mineralogy
of samples delivered to it by the rover's arm; and SAM, the Sample Analysis
at Mars suite of 3 instruments that will search for organics and measure
the isotopic composition of Martian rocks, soil and atmosphere.  Of course
we all hope that these instruments have survived landing and are working
well.
        My tactical operations shifts have been exciting, and I've enjoyed
working with the talented and knowledgeable engineers and scientist on the
tactical team.  But I'm also looking forward to taking a break for a few
days and sleeping past 4:30 in the morning!

Ken