Sol 567 Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Late Slide Sol - Only Driving11 March 2014
After I finished my SOWG Chair shifts last week, I took some time off to celebrate my son's birthday. While I was away, the MSL planning schedule transitioned into "late slide sols" because data from the rover arrive late in the day Pacific time. In order to preserve the ability to send commands to the rover every day, only driving was allowed on these slide sols. This allowed continued traverse progress over the weekend, but very few science observations. Unfortunately, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) suffered an anomaly Sunday (news release 2014-078) that interrupted the relay of data from MSL to Earth. Therefore, the drive planned for Sol 567 was cancelled and targeted ChemCam and Mastcam observations of nearby rocks were planned instead. MSL data are typically also relayed by the Mars Odyssey orbiter, so rover operations can continue while MRO is recovering, but with more limited downlink volume.