USGS Astrogeology Science Center News http://astrogeology.usgs.gov/news News about current and upcoming space missions, USGS gelogic products and historical exhibits en-us <![CDATA[Sol 1386: Studying Trekkopje, checking the wheels]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0700

 

Our drive in the Sol 1385 plan took us 66 meters, continuing our path south between the “Baynes Mountains” and “Helgas Dune". The plan for Sol 1386 starts off with APXS and MAHLI observations of the target “Trekkopje”, followed by a short science block. Mastcam will start off the block with some atmospheric measurements, then ChemCam will join in the fun and analyze Trekkopje too. Mastcam will document that observation and the AEGIS observation from Sol 1385, followed by a couple of small mosaics studying the rim of a nearby crater. Instead of driving, we will use MAHLI to do a check-up on our wheels in today’s plan. 

by Ryan Anderson

-Ryan is a planetary scientist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the ChemCam team on MSL.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the martian environment, communication relays and rover status

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<![CDATA[Sol 1385: Drive then drive some more]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0700

Not a lot to report today: these one-sol drive plans are pretty simple! (Well, as simple as driving a giant robot on another planet can be…) Yesterday’s drive took us a little over 60m and we’re planning another drive in the sol 1385 plan. Before the drive, we have a short science block with a ChemCam observation of the target “Epembe” and a Mastcam mosaic of “Baynes Mountain” to fill a gap in the 360 mosaic from yesterday. After that, we’ll drive for about 70 meters and collect post-drive imaging. We’ll also use AEGIS to do a ChemCam observation after the drive and use MAHLI to look at the ground under our wheels.

by Ryan Anderson

-Ryan is a planetary scientist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the ChemCam team on MSL.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the martian environment, communication relays and rover status

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<![CDATA[Sol 1384: Baynes Mountain]]> Mon, 27 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0700

Our weekend soliday plan was successful, putting us about halfway to our next likely drilling location. We are now in “unrestricted” planning again, meaning we will be getting data down overnight and can plan every day this week.

The Sol 1384 plan starts with ChemCam of the target “Berseba”. Mastcam will also image Berseba, as well as the ChemCam AEGIS target from the weekend. Mastcam then has a mosaic of the nearby “Baynes Mountain” to capture the details of the stratigraphy there, as well as some atmospheric observations. After that, the plan is to drive for about 70 meters and collect our standard post-drive images. Since the drive is expected to put us in a location with a good view of the surrounding geology, we will also do a 360 degree Mastcam mosaic at the end of the sol.

by Ryan Anderson

-Ryan is a planetary scientist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the ChemCam team on MSL.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the martian environment, communication relays and rover status

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<![CDATA[Sol 1382-1383: Phobos Transit and Soliday]]> Mon, 27 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0700

Contact science in the Sol 1380-1381 plan went well, so we're back to driving in the weekend plan!

Sol 1382 will start with a Mastcam video of Phobos crossing in front of the sun, plus a multispectral observation of the brushed target “Koes”. ChemCam will then analyze the targets “Koes,” “Kongola,” and “Rundu” and Mastcam will document those observations. After that, we will drop off some of the “Oudam” sample to SAM for analysis.

On Sol 1383 the rover will drive and then collect the usual post-drive images, including an 8x1 mosaic along the side of the rover to study changing textures as we drive. We’ll also take some extra Navcam images of a crater in the distance. Later in the day, Mastcam has a couple of atmospheric observations and ChemCam has an auto-targeted observation.

The weekend plan is only two sols since Sunday is a “soliday” allowing Earth and Mars schedules to get back in sync. But the plan does include an early morning science block for Sol 1384 to collect some atmospheric observations with Navcam and Mastcam.

by Ryan Anderson

-Ryan is a planetary scientist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the ChemCam team on MSL.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the martian environment, communication relays and rover status

 

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<![CDATA[Sols 1380-1381: Contact Science at “Koes”]]> Wed, 22 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Sol 1378 Navcam

The drive on Sol 1378 went well, and Curiosity drove ~44 m to the south, bringing our total drive distance to more than 13.2 km.  We’re currently making our way through a gap in the Bagnold dunes (part of a dune is visible in the upper left of the drive direction Navcam frame, above).

Today’s two-sol plan includes targeted remote sensing, and contact science at a target named “Koes.”  We’ve been searching for a good place to do contact science on the Murray formation around here, and there won’t be enough power or time to fit contact science in the weekend plan, so it’s great to pick it up here.  The plan starts with ChemCam and Mastcam observations of “Koes” and “Onawa” to characterize the Murray formation.  Then we’ll use the DRT to brush off a fresh surface at “Koes,” followed by MAHLI imaging.  We’ll also use MAHLI to image the rover wheels, as part of our ongoing monitoring.  Then we’ll place APXS for an overnight integration on “Koes.”  We’ll also carry out a SAM preconditioning activity, which heats up a sample cup in preparation for solid sample analysis.  Curiosity will wake up early the next morning to acquire a Mastcam mosaic of “Baynes Mountain” to document the contact between the Murray and Stimson formations.  On Sol 1381, we’ll acquire another ChemCam observation of the Murray formation at “Khoabendus,” and we’ll use Mastcam to characterize veins at the target “Helgas.”  Then Navcam will be used to monitor the atmosphere and search for dust devils.

By Lauren Edgar

--Lauren is a Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the MSL science team.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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<![CDATA[Sol 1378-1379: Making up for lost distance]]> Tue, 21 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0700

Over the weekend, the rover stopped after about 17 meters of the planned 65 meter drive. The rover is fine, the drive just tripped one of the (very conservative) limits on how the rover’s suspension was expected to behave, causing Curiosity to stop and check in with Earth. Since there is nothing jumping out at us as a contact science target where we stopped, in today’s plan we will try to make up for some of the lost distance from the weekend plan.

In the Sol 1378 plan, ChemCam has observations of some bedrock at the target “Tombua” and a rock named “Ai Ais”. Mastcam then will image the two ChemCam targets, as well as the Sol 1376 AEGIS target. Mastcam will also image some veins at a location called “Helgas”. After that, we will drive and collect some typical post-drive imaging.

On Sol 1379, we won’t have data down from Sol 1378 yet, so it is an untargeted plan. In the morning, ChemCam, NavCam, and Mastcam have some atmospheric observations. Then in the afternoon, ChemCam has some calibration observations, followed by a few more Mastcam atmospheric observations. 

by Ryan Anderson

-Ryan is a planetary scientist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the ChemCam team on MSL.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the martian environment, communication relays and rover status

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<![CDATA[Names Approved and a Name Changed on Ceres]]> Mon, 20 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0700 The IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature approved the name Hanami Planum to replace the name Erntedank Planum on Ceres and approved a boundary change for Samhain Catenae. The following new names were also approved: Lociyo, Nepen, Tawals, Baltay Catena, Pongal Catena, Junina Catenae, Nabanna Fossa, and Nar Sulcus. For more information, see the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.

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<![CDATA[Sols 1375-1377: Another busy weekend]]> Fri, 17 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0700

The Sol 1373 drive completed successfully, moving the rover over 31 meters toward the south.  There's lots of bedrock exposed around the vehicle, but no flat patches large enough to brush in the arm workspace.  So MAHLI will take images of an unbrushed target called "Andara" before the APXS is placed on it for an overnight integration.  Before these arm activities on Sol 1375, ChemCam and the Right Mastcam will observe Andara and other bedrock targets "Okoloti," "Kalkfeld," and "Khorixas."  Mastcam will then acquire a stereo mosaic of a nice outcrop toward the southwest dubbed "Baynes Mountains" and a left-eye mosaic of another outcrop northwest of the rover.  The CheMin team requested another portion of the Oudam drill sample, which will be delivered late that afternoon.  After dark, MAHLI will image the CheMin inlet using its LEDs for illumination. 

Late in the morning of Sol 1376, APXS will integrate again on Andara to compare the quality of data acquired at different temperatures.  Then the arm will be stowed for a long (about 55 meters) drive, which will be followed by the usual post-drive imaging and another ChemCam AEGIS (autonomously-targeted) observation. 

On Sol 1377, the Left Mastcam will acquire a mosaic of the rover deck, to serve as a baseline for comparison with future images taken after passing the sand dunes along the path ahead.  Sand blown across the rover might remove some of the dust on the rover deck.  Finally, CheMin will analyze the new Oudam sample portion overnight.  It should be another busy weekend for MSL!

by Ken Herkenhoff

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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<![CDATA[Sols 1373-1374: No touch, just go!]]> Wed, 15 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0700
The 32-meter Sol 1371 drive completed exactly as planned, giving the rover a good view of the path toward the south.  So another ~30-meter drive is planned for Sol 1373, after some remote science observations.  We had the option of using the DRT and taking MAHLI images of the brush spot before the drive, but the science team decided to acquire more remote science observations rather than brushing the Stimson Formation bedrock reachable by the arm.  Mastcam will image the path ahead through all spectral filters, then ChemCam and the Right Mastcam will observe Stimson bedrock targets "Sesfontein" and "Swartbooisdrif."  The Right Mastcam will image the ChemCam target that was autonomously selected by the AEGIS software on Sol 1371, and a Left Mastcam mosaic of a fracture zone west of the rover is planned.  On Sol 1374, AEGIS will be used to autonomously acquire another ChemCam observation and the Left Mastcam will take a 3x2 mosaic of the same area. 

by Ken Herkenhoff

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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<![CDATA[Names Approved for Craters on Mars: Bunnik, Langtang, Nqutu, and Talu]]> Tue, 14 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Bunnik, Langtang, Nqutu, and Talu. For more information, see the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.]]> <![CDATA[Sols 1371-1372: Driving south]]> Mon, 13 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Sol 1369 Navcam

The weekend drive went well, and Curiosity drove ~ 32 m to the south.  This southward path will eventually take us through a gap in the active sand dunes that will be easier for Curiosity to traverse.  We’re planning another drive today, which will take us in the direction of the above Navcam image.

Today’s two-sol plan consists of several ChemCam and Mastcam observations of the Murray formation to assess variations in texture and chemistry.  We also planned a small Mastcam mosaic to document some nearby cross-stratification and nodules, and a small MAHLI mosaic of the target “Berg Aukas” before driving away.  After the drive, we’ll acquire our standard set of post-drive imaging for context and targeting.  The second sol includes a small untargeted science block, which we filled with a ChemCam autonomously selected target and a Mastcam observation to monitor the opacity of the atmosphere.

By Lauren Edgar 

--Lauren is a Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the MSL science team.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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<![CDATA[Sols 1368-1370: On the road again]]> Fri, 10 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Sol 1366 Navcam

We received the engineering data that we needed to proceed with the final science activities at the Oudam drill site.  Today’s plan is focused on analyzing the pre-sieve dump pile and getting on the road again.

The three-sol plan starts by moving the arm out of the way so we can target the workspace.  First we’ll acquire a ChemCam passive observation on the pre-sieve dump pile, followed by several ChemCam and Mastcam observations of nearby veins.  Then we’ll use all of the Mastcam filters to study the DRT target “Aubures,” and we’ll acquire a Mastcam mosaic to document the local geology.  We’ll also target two areas to look for changes and the movement of fine-grained material.  Then we’ll move the arm back to the dump pile for MAHLI and APXS observations.  On the second sol we’ll use ChemCam to target the dump pile, and then we’ll drive away.  We’ll take our standard post-drive imaging, and an autonomously selected ChemCam target.  The third sol is devoted to ChemCam and Mastcam observations to monitor the chemistry and opacity of the atmosphere.

By Lauren Edgar

--Lauren is a Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the MSL science team.

 

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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<![CDATA[Sols 1366-1367: Opportunistic contact science]]> Wed, 08 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Sol 1364 MAHLI Oudam hole

The day started off with some changes to the sol path due to some holes in the downlink.  Unfortunately some engineering camera and MAHLI images from Sol 1364 were not fully transmitted, so the team worked quickly to rearrange the intended activities this week.  Fortunately that also meant that we could add in some opportunistic DRT, MAHLI and APXS activities on Sol 1366.

The two-sol plan starts off with ChemCam and Mastcam observations of the Oudam drill hole and tailings, and the nearby target “Omulonga.” We’ll also acquire some Mastcam and Navcam observations to monitor the atmosphere.  In the afternoon of the first sol, we’ll use the DRT, MALHI and APXS to characterize the bedrock target “Aubures” to look for variations in texture and chemistry within the Murray formation.  On the second sol we’ll acquire a 360 degree Mastcam mosaic for geologic context, and a routine SAM electrical baseline test to monitor instrument health.  Hopefully the Navcam images will be retransmitted so we can continue with our drill site characterization activities later this week! 

By Lauren Edgar

--Lauren is a Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the MSL science team.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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<![CDATA[Sols 1364-1365: Analyzing drill sample]]> Mon, 06 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0700
The Oudam drill campaign continues to go well, with sample acquired and ready for analysis.  Planning is now restricted, so we are planning 2 sols today.  On Sol 1364, ChemCam will acquire passive spectra of the drill tailings and a LIBS raster of the wall of the drill hole.  Later that afternoon, the unsieved portion of the drill sample will be dumped on the ground and imaged by MAHLI from 25 cm to support future planning.  After dark, MAHLI will take pictures of the inside of the drill hole, the tailings, and the CheMin inlet using its LEDs for illumination.  The APXS will then be placed on the drill tailings for an overnight integration. 

Early on Sol 1365, the Right Mastcam will extend the mosaic of Hartmann's Valley, adding 22 images.  That afternoon, the APXS will be retracted and vibrated to clean it, then the arm will be moved out of the way for ChemCam and Mastcam observations of the drill tailings.  Navcam will search for clouds both near the horizon and at zenith.  Finally, CheMin will analyze the drill sample overnight.

by Ken Herkenhoff

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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<![CDATA[Sols 1361-1363: Drilling Oudam]]> Fri, 03 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0700
The MSL Rover Planners have all the data they need to drill (no "mini-drill" required), so the plan for this weekend focuses on drilling into the Oudam bedrock target.  The full drill is scheduled for Sol 1361, followed by MAHLI and Mastcam images of the new hole.  The rover will then rest until Sol 1362, when the drill sample will be transferred to the scoop for Mastcam imaging and sieved.  A fine-grained (<0.15 mm) portion of the sample then will be dropped into CheMin for an overnight mineralogical analysis.  After the CheMin data are read out of the instrument on Sol 1363, Mastcam will take a multispectral set of images of the drill tailings and a Right Mastcam mosaic of an outcrop southeast of the rover.  In addition, ChemCam and Mastcam will observe a vein target named "Onganja" and a bedrock target dubbed "Ongeama," and Navcam will search for dust devils.  Another busy weekend for MSL!

by Ken Herkenhoff

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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