Astrogeology Science Center

Sol 64 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Opportunistic Science

10 October 2012

After much analysis and discussion, the MSL project decided that the bright object on the ground is benign and that we can therefore proceed with the long-anticipated first sample manipulation activities. These activities are complex enough that there was not room in the Sol 64 plan for… Read More

Sol 63 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Bright Object

9 October 2012

When I arrived at JPL Monday evening, the discussion was still centered on the bright object seen the previous sol. The Sol 62 plan was revised late in the planning day to acquire more images of this object. The resulting Mastcam and RMI images show that is not a screw, as initially feared, but… Read More

Sol 62 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Graveyard Shift

8 October 2012

I took a break over the weekend to visit my family. While I was away, MSL successfully acquired its first scoop of Martian soil, from the wind ripple we have been working at for several sols. "Mars time" (the local time at MSL's location) and PDT are nearly the same again, so that the planning… Read More

Sol 59 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Before the Descent

5 October 2012

The data from Sol 58 show that the ripple is suitable for scooping, so the Sol 59 plan includes a short rover drive to position the rover near a part of the ripple that has not been disturbed yet. The MAHLI images of the wall are beautiful and show that the interior of the ripple is mostly… Read More

Sol 58 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: The Right Scuff

4 October 2012

The first wheel scuff went well, so we planned APXS (elemental chemistry) and MAHLI (close-up imaging) of the floor and sidewall of the scuff, as well as an undisturbed area just to the right of the scuff. These data should allow us to decide whether the ripple is suitable for the scooping using… Read More

Sol 57 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: First Scuff

2 October 2012

I'm back at JPL, serving as SOWG Chair planning Sol 57. The mission continues to go very well, with recent drives executed nearly perfectly. The rover is now positioned near a windblown ripple that is the current target of both scientific and engineering study. As I mentioned previously, we… Read More

Sol 51 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Back in Flagstaff

27 September 2012

I haven't been following the MSL mission for the last couple days, traveling back to Flagstaff to give a talk about Mars rovers for the Flagstaff Festival of Science today at Lowell Observatory.  I've been giving talks for the Festival for about 10 years, starting with an overview of the Mars… Read More

Sol 50 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Windblown Ripple Observations

25 September 2012

Yet another good drive on Sol 49, leaving the rover right next to a windblown ripple (right of center). It doesn't look like much, but it's the first one we've been close to so it was the target of ChemCam and Mastcam observations planned for Sol 50. We are currently searching for a larger ripple… Read More

Sol 49 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: 42 Meters!

24 September 2012

Today I served as the leader of the Geology Science Theme Group, which was fun because I had never done it before. The Sol 48 drive set a new record for MSL: 42 meters! We also heard the good news that APXS acquired high-quality data in only 12 minutes, during the middle of the day when the… Read More

Sol 47 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Out of Focus!

23 September 2012

"Mars time" is getting closer to PDT, with first shift starting around 6 AM today. Lots of good news and applause today: The Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) received its first data from a Mars rock, the first MAHLI close-up images of the same rock, and the first mass spectrometer… Read More