Astrogeology Science Center

Sol 36 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Sky Flats

12 September 2012

The checkout of the MSL arm continues to go well: The Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer returned its first data, of its calibration target on the side of the rover. I was busy last night planning a bunch of MAHLI images to be taken as part of the verification that the arm can be accurately… Read More

Sol 35 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Belly of the Rover

11 September 2012

There were more cheers and applause when MAHLI images of the belly of the rover were displayed. The camera, which can focus at distances from 2 cm to infinity, is working perfectly! It also took pictures of its calibration target, which includes a 1909 Lincoln penny. The arm checkout also went… Read More

Small Martian Crater Named Yellowknife

10 September 2012

The IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature has approved the name Yellowknife for the Martian crater located at 4.58S, 137.44E. For more information, see the map of MC-23 in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.

Sol 34 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: MAHLI Optics

10 September 2012

Over a month into the mission, there are still cheers at JPL when first-time activities are completed successfully. Last night, the latest successes included the first Chemin X-ray diffraction pattern (of an empty sample cell), and the first MAHLI image with its dust cover open. Previous images… Read More

Sol 33 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Flexing the Arm

9 September 2012

I arrived in Pasadena at about 10 PM last night, and went straight to JPL to catch up with the MSL team and start my transition to Mars time. My next shift starts at 9:15 PM tonight. I walked in during a science team meeting regarding "data management" which sounds boring but is very important… Read More

Sol 29 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Check-in with Opportunity

7 September 2012

I was planning to stay on "Mars time" while in Flagstaff this week, but it would have meant less time with my family, so I haven't been sleeping very late. This has allowed me to call in to Mars Exploration Rover planning meetings at 9 AM and catch up with what Opportunity has been doing. After… Read More

Sol 27 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Compression Testing

2 September 2012

The Sol 26 drive went well, and the images taken after the drive showed some interesting outcrops right in front of the rover. The focus of the Sol 27 plan is primarily the first sampling of Mars' atmosphere by the big SAM instrument, so there wasn't much time to do anything else. Now… Read More

Sol 26 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Mars Time

1 September 2012

The best news today was that analysis of more detailed ChemCam engineering data showed that the problems noted a few sols ago were very minor and now completely understood, so the instrument can now be used again! While we suspected that the problem was not serious, it was very nice to receive… Read More

Sol 24 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Autonomous Navigation

31 August 2012

The highlight of the Sol 24 plan is to test some of the software that will allow the rover to avoid obstacles automatically. If the test, involving taking images and processing them onboard the rover, is successful the rover will drive farther toward our goal, called Glenelg. This location will… Read More

Sol 25 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Sunlight Versus Shadow

31 August 2012

As predicted, we didn't receive enough data through MRO today to allow us to plan another drive. So while we wait for the images taken after the Sol 24 drive to arrive, we planned a bunch of images to be taken on Sol 25. I was MAHLI/MARDI Payload Uplink Lead 1 today, which means that my job was… Read More