Astrogeology Science Center

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

Sol 46 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Perfect Bump

22 September 2012

The Sol 45 rover "bump" was executed perfectly, putting the rover in position to deploy the arm instruments to the rock "Jake Matijevic" and shoot it with ChemCam's laser. So the Sol 46 plan includes the long-awaited first use of the arm on a rock target. I look forward to seeing the close-up… Read More

Sol 45 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Bump Drive

21 September 2012

The high-resolution color images of "Jake Matijevic" show that one face of the rock is clean (dust-free) enough for detailed study using the instruments on MSL's arm. So the Sol 45 plan includes a "bump" (short rover drive) to get close enough to reach it with the arm. We also planned ChemCam… Read More

Sol 44 update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Everything is Jake

20 September 2012

Once again, the rover planners (drivers) displayed their ability to position MSL accurately, leaving the rover right where we wanted. It looks like the rock named "Jake Matijevic" will suffice for the first examination of Mars by the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) and close-up imaging… Read More

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