After taking a break from tactical operations for an MSL science team meeting (and a bit of vacation) last week, I'm back on as SOWG chair for Sol 195 planning. The most exciting part of this plan is "feeding" some of the first drill sample to Chemin. There wasn't much room to add additional… Read More
I was happy to see that first drill sample was successfully acquired on Sol 182, as shown in one of the MAHLI images I helped plan. The whole team is very excited about this news!
The "mini-drill" test went well, so Sol 182 planning focused on the first full drilling activity. As MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead again, I concentrated on planning MAHLI images of the drill target, to be taken both before and after the drilling. A lot of effort had already gone into planning these… Read More
Planning is still "restricted," so we had an opportunity to acquire more ChemCam and imaging data on Sol 181 while waiting for confirmation that the Sol 180 "mini-drill" test completed successfully. As MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead, I focused on planning MAHLI images of 3 targets in front of the rover.… Read More
Because the "drill-on-rock checkout" activity did not complete successfully on Sol 174, the MSL team had to work extra hard to determine how best to recover from the anomaly. Several engineers worked overnight in the rover testbed at JPL to understand the root cause of the problem in time to… Read More
As SOWG Chair again, I worked hard today to fit as many observations into the Sol 175 plan as possible while leaving enough energy in the batteries for Sol 176 activities. Overnight SAM analysis of a blank cell in preparation for a drill sample takes a lot of power, but we were still able to plan… Read More
I served as SOWG Chair for Sol 174 planning, which includes the first use of the drill on Mars. Drill tailings will not be collected during this test, which will use only the percussion (not rotation) drilling mode. MAHLI images will be taken before and after the drill activity, so the effect of… Read More
Preparations for the first drilling activities continue to go well. The focus of the Sol 170 and 171 plans was to test the ability of arm to press the drill against the surface. Four targets were selected for the "preload" testing, and the arm was left pressed against one of them overnight, to… Read More
I was MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead again today, planning images of potential drill targets. We still need more information before we can start drilling, and there are more tests to be done before the first drilling activity. So it looks like we will be in the same place for several weeks!
Today is the 9th anniversary of Opportunity's landing on Mars. Her twin Mars Exploration Rover, Spirit, sent her last transmission to Earth in 2010, after over 6 years of successful operation on the surface of Mars. Not bad, considering the nominal mission lifetime of the MER rovers was 90 days.… Read More