Astrogeology Science Center

Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Active During Shutdown

17 October 2013

I apologize for the gap in these updates— the USGS web servers were turned off during the government shutdown. Thanks to support from the MSL Project Scientist and my supervisor, I was permitted to support MSL tactical operations during the shutdown. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to… Read More

Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Team Meeting

30 September 2013

I'm in Pasadena this week for an MSL team meeting, but may have to return home tomorrow if the government is shut down. I'd hate to miss the meeting and associated discussions with my colleagues, but as a USGS civil servant I will be required to stop working and cut my trip short. Therefore, I… Read More

Remembering Ray Batson: 1931 - 2013

26 September 2013

Raymond M. Batson was a seminal figure in the initial exploration of the Solar System. In his 30-year career in the Astrogeology program of the U.S. Geological Survey, he pioneered the development of techniques for planetary cartography and led the initial mapping of 7 planets and 23 satellites.… Read More

Sol 405 Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Tight Spot

25 September 2013

The autonomous navigation software could not find a safe path toward the rover's goal on Sol 404, so ended up in a configuration that prevented uplink of the Sol 405 command sequences directly to the high-gain antenna from Earth. Without new instructions, the rover executed the runout sequences… Read More

Sol 404 Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Back on the Road

24 September 2013

The campaign at Waypoint 1 is complete, and MSL is back on the road toward Aeolis Mons ("Mt. Sharp"). Lots of observations were made at Waypoint 1, and are being analyzed as the data are returned to Earth. I'm MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead again today, planning the usual end-of-drive MAHLI and MARDI… Read More

Sol 399: Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Long Shift

19 September 2013

Today is my last shift as SOWG Chair this week. The rover is in a stable position, so we were able to plan lots of contact science for Sol 399, including MAHLI and APXS observations of 5 different targets at Waypoint 1. It's a very complex plan, but we were able to add ChemCam and Mastcam… Read More

Sol 398 Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: The Veins

18 September 2013

The short drive to the next contact science location at Waypoint 1 was successful, so we planned a lot of MAHLI images and a couple ChemCam observations of the veins in front of the rover. Planning is still restricted, so these data will not be received in time to plan Sol 399, but will be used… Read More

Sol 397 Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Blind Observations

17 September 2013

MSL planning is restricted again this week, so Sol 397 was planned without knowing the position of the rover after the Sol 396 drive. Fortunately, there were a number of blind observations that could be scheduled this sol, including repeated Mastcam and Navcam observations of the ground left and… Read More

Sol 392-396 Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Waypoint 1

13 September 2013

The rover is in position to deploy the arm instruments on outcrops at Waypoint 1, so the weekend plan includes lots of APXS and MAHLI observations. So many contact and remote sensing observations were suggested that we didn't have time to include them all in the plan! A short drive, or "bump" to… Read More

Sol 388 Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: New Record Drive

12 September 2013

I'm back from a week's vacation, catching up on everything that MSL has been doing. A new record for drive distance was set last week, 141 meters! Driving this far required lots of autonomous navigation, which left little time for science observations. Last weekend's plan included contact… Read More