Because the "drill-on-rock checkout" activity did not complete successfully on Sol 174, the MSL team had to work extra hard to determine how best to recover from the anomaly. Several engineers worked overnight in the rover testbed at JPL to understand the root cause of the problem in time to… Read More
As SOWG Chair again, I worked hard today to fit as many observations into the Sol 175 plan as possible while leaving enough energy in the batteries for Sol 176 activities. Overnight SAM analysis of a blank cell in preparation for a drill sample takes a lot of power, but we were still able to plan… Read More
The IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature has approved the name Lucaya for a crater on Mars. For more information, see the map of MC-21 in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.
I served as SOWG Chair for Sol 174 planning, which includes the first use of the drill on Mars. Drill tailings will not be collected during this test, which will use only the percussion (not rotation) drilling mode. MAHLI images will be taken before and after the drill activity, so the effect of… Read More
Preparations for the first drilling activities continue to go well. The focus of the Sol 170 and 171 plans was to test the ability of arm to press the drill against the surface. Four targets were selected for the "preload" testing, and the arm was left pressed against one of them overnight, to… Read More
I was MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead again today, planning images of potential drill targets. We still need more information before we can start drilling, and there are more tests to be done before the first drilling activity. So it looks like we will be in the same place for several weeks!
Today is the 9th anniversary of Opportunity's landing on Mars. Her twin Mars Exploration Rover, Spirit, sent her last transmission to Earth in 2010, after over 6 years of successful operation on the surface of Mars. Not bad, considering the nominal mission lifetime of the MER rovers was 90 days.… Read More
We have arrived at John Klein, the location selected for the first use of the drill! There are multiple potential drill targets in front of the rover, which must be flat as well as scientifically interesting. The Sol 167 plan includes a MAHLI mosaic of the area that can be reached by the drill,… Read More
The Sol 159 "bump" went well, and we received the images we needed to plan ChemCam, MAHLI, and Mastcam observations in the new location. As MAHLI uplink lead for Sol 160, I was focused on planning close-up images of a bright rock that apparently was broken and freshly exposed by the rover wheel. … Read More
For Sol 159, we planned MAHLI imaging of one more rock outcrop before stowing the arm and driving about 1 meter backward. The goal of this short "bump" is to allow us to use the arm instruments to investigate spherical objects in the rock that some team members have interpreted as… Read More