Astrogeology Science Center

Sol 441 - 443: Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Deploying the Arm

1 November 2013

Planning started at 6:30 this morning to allow enough time to plan 3 sols before we have to send the command sequences to the rover by 19:00 this evening. The science theme groups requested lots of good observations, expecting that they wouldn't all fit into the plan. It was therefore a hectic… Read More

Sol 440 Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Low Scarp

31 October 2013

The rover is very close to a low scarp that is the target for contact science this weekend. The Sol 440 plan includes a bunch of targeted ChemCam and Mastcam observations, followed by a short drive (or "bump") to the low scarp dubbed "Cooperstown." The planning schedule is tight, so we started at… Read More

Sol 438 Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Driving to Cooperstown

29 October 2013

Last weekend's 3-sol plan included back-to-back drives on Sols 436 and 437. This is the first time in the mission that this has been attempted. There was no tactical planning on Monday to allow Mars and Earth time to synch up, but the rover drivers reviewed the available data before giving their… Read More

Sol 432: Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Untargeted Remote Sensing

22 October 2013

MSL planning is still restricted, so we won't get confirmation of the drive planned for Sol 431 in time for planning Sol 432, which is therefore an untargeted-remote-sensing sol. The 432 plan also includes an overnight test of CheMin's ability to analyze sample while communicating with the MRO… Read More

Sol 428-430 Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Autumn on Mars

18 October 2013

I forgot to mention previously that, unlike at other NASA Centers, JPL employees work for Caltech, not NASA directly. So they were not as immediately affected by the government shutdown as NASA and USGS employees. Therefore, because many of the people responsible for operating the rovers are at… Read More

Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Active During Shutdown

17 October 2013

I apologize for the gap in these updates— the USGS web servers were turned off during the government shutdown. Thanks to support from the MSL Project Scientist and my supervisor, I was permitted to support MSL tactical operations during the shutdown. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to… Read More

Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Team Meeting

30 September 2013

I'm in Pasadena this week for an MSL team meeting, but may have to return home tomorrow if the government is shut down. I'd hate to miss the meeting and associated discussions with my colleagues, but as a USGS civil servant I will be required to stop working and cut my trip short. Therefore, I… Read More

Remembering Ray Batson: 1931 - 2013

26 September 2013

Raymond M. Batson was a seminal figure in the initial exploration of the Solar System. In his 30-year career in the Astrogeology program of the U.S. Geological Survey, he pioneered the development of techniques for planetary cartography and led the initial mapping of 7 planets and 23 satellites.… Read More

Sol 405 Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Tight Spot

25 September 2013

The autonomous navigation software could not find a safe path toward the rover's goal on Sol 404, so ended up in a configuration that prevented uplink of the Sol 405 command sequences directly to the high-gain antenna from Earth. Without new instructions, the rover executed the runout sequences… Read More

Sol 404 Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Back on the Road

24 September 2013

The campaign at Waypoint 1 is complete, and MSL is back on the road toward Aeolis Mons ("Mt. Sharp"). Lots of observations were made at Waypoint 1, and are being analyzed as the data are returned to Earth. I'm MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead again today, planning the usual end-of-drive MAHLI and MARDI… Read More