Astrogeology Science Center

Sol 43 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Transits

19 September 2012

A couple of transits of Mars' moon across the face of the sun were observed by Mastcam. These are similar to solar eclipses on Earth, but because the Martian moons are so much smaller than Earth's moon, they do not completely block the sun. But they are still fun to watch and scientifically… Read More

Sol 42 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Active Neutron Spectrometry

18 September 2012

The Sol 41 drive went well, but we are still on relatively featureless terrain. We planned another drive for Sol 42, and a huge Mastcam mosaic from the new position. It is pointed toward Glenelg and the surrounding area, and will be used to identify interesting targets for… Read More

Sol 41 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: High Plateau

17 September 2012

Once again the drive went well and we planned another drive on Sol 41. The terrain is relatively featureless in this area, so we are focusing imaging plans on distant targets. We are on a relatively high plateau so the views toward the rim of Gale crater are better than they were from the… Read More

Sol 40 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Seeking Diverse Terrain

16 September 2012

Once again, the drive went well, and we are 20 meters closer to Glenelg, our near-term goal. The terrain surrounding the rover at the end of the Sol 39 drive is not as interesting as the previous location, so we didn't plan many observations besides those needed to support drive planning. … Read More

Sol 39 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Driving Again

15 September 2012

The drive went as planned, and left MSL next to a nice outcrop During the drive the DAN instrument monitored neutrons coming up from the subsurface and noticed significant variations along the way. It's not known (at least to me) what causes these variations, but possibilities include hydrated… Read More

Sol 38 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Glenelg Ahead

14 September 2012

With the successful execution of the last of the MSL arm checkout activities, the characterization phase is complete! Many first-time activities still lie ahead (like drilling, scooping, and delivering samples to the mineralogy and organic chemistry instruments), but the major capabilities of the… Read More

Sol 37 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Planning Under a Fake Sun

13 September 2012

The ChemCam instrument was confirmed to be safe, but will not be used again until Friday to give the ChemCam team a chance to rest and regroup. The team met at the end of the planning day (7:30 PDT) to review the data received so far and to plan the next steps. By the time of this meeting I had… Read More

Sol 36 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Sky Flats

12 September 2012

The checkout of the MSL arm continues to go well: The Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer returned its first data, of its calibration target on the side of the rover. I was busy last night planning a bunch of MAHLI images to be taken as part of the verification that the arm can be accurately… Read More

Sol 35 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Belly of the Rover

11 September 2012

There were more cheers and applause when MAHLI images of the belly of the rover were displayed. The camera, which can focus at distances from 2 cm to infinity, is working perfectly! It also took pictures of its calibration target, which includes a 1909 Lincoln penny. The arm checkout also went… Read More

Sol 34 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: MAHLI Optics

10 September 2012

Over a month into the mission, there are still cheers at JPL when first-time activities are completed successfully. Last night, the latest successes included the first Chemin X-ray diffraction pattern (of an empty sample cell), and the first MAHLI image with its dust cover open. Previous images… Read More