Astrogeology Science Center

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. But the plan included some ChemCam observations, as the instrument team is now ready to resume tactical planning. Hooray! The Sol 40 drive will be a bit longer, over 30 meters, and should get us to a low ridge that will give us a better view of the terrain ahead.

I was reminded again today how diverse the MSL team is. Okay, white males make up the majority of the team, but women serve in many of the most important roles, including Mission Manager, Deputy Project Scientist, Tactical Uplink Lead (mostly women), and Science Theme Lead. Most impressive is the number of team members from foreign countries, including Spain, Russia, and France, for whom English is a second (or third) language. They are required to understand all of the team discussions and respond to questions in English, despite the highly technical nature of the subject matter. Some of the engineering jargon is unfamiliar to many of us who are native English speakers! For example, "IPE supra-tactical reported replacement of the MOB backbone in tosol's APAM and deconfliction of the margin after the mobility block." Hard enough to understand when English is your first language--I'm really impressed by the foreign nationals' ability to do such a good job in these conditions.