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
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
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
The IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature has approved names for two features on Mars: Candor Colles and Ceti Labes. For more information, see the IAU Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.
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
The Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature has approved the name Chesterton for the crater on Mercury located at 88.3N, 134.5W. For details, see the map of Mercury quadrangle H-1 in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.
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
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
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
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