Astrogeology Science Center

Sol 72 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: MRO is back

18 October 2012

MRO is back--we received over 400 Mbits of data through the orbiter yesterday! The amount of data relayed through MRO will decrease once the orbiter's instruments are operating again (they were turned on this morning), but in the meantime we're enjoying the flood of data. Among the new data were… Read More

Sol 71 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Observation Tray

17 October 2012

The third scoop of soil was successfully acquired, and partly processed by CHIMRA, dumping part of it on the observation tray. So MSL is back on track despite the unavailability of MRO data relay and other communications problems. MRO has exited safe mode and is expected to resume relaying MSL… Read More

Sol 69 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Pushing Data

15 October 2012

The command sequences prepared for Sol 68 were not received by MSL due to a problem with a radio transmitter at a Deep Space Network ground station. But enough data were received from earlier sols that we were confident that we could resume scooping on a new site, where contamination was not seen… Read More

Sol 68 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Schmutz!

14 October 2012

The MAHLI image of the "schmutz" in the 2nd scoop trench (at lower left in photo) shows that it is brighter than anything else in the image, but it's still not clear what it is. In case it is debris from MSL, a nearby area of the same sandy ripple will be imaged by MAHLI to determine whether… Read More

Sol 67 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Getting the Scoop

13 October 2012

Less than half of the ChemCam data acquired on Sol 66 have been received so far, but it looks like the activities we planned before the decontamination heating went well. So we requested another titanium calibration target observation in Sol 67, and the theme groups requested a new 3x3 LIBS… Read More

Sol 66 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Decontamination Time

12 October 2012

The Sol 66 plan includes the second scooping activity on the same sandy ripple, again intended to be used to flush out the CHIMRA system, removing any remaining terrestrial contamination. This won't take the entire sol, and there were a couple blocks of time available for science observations. … Read More

Sol 65 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: First-Time Activities

11 October 2012

There was applause again today when the successful completion of the first CHIMRA sieving and processing of soil was announced. While it was expected that it would take months to get through all of these "first-time" activities, this latest achievement reminds me of how complex MSL is. There… Read More

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