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[Sols 1414-1416: Keep on truckin']]> Wed, 27 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0700
MSL drove over 45 meters on Sol 1412, to a location with lots of bedrock exposed but most of it is coated by dust.  So again we decided not to deploy the arm and acquire lots of ChemCam data instead.  LIBS observations of targets named "Okahandja," "Swakopmund," and "Walvis Bay" will be followed by another long-distance RMI mosaic.  Then the Right Mastcam will image the ChemCam targets and acquire a 5-image mosaic of the Murray Buttes.  The Left Mastcam will take a 7-image mosaic of the bedrock in front of the rover before the Sol 1414 drive.  After the drive, lots of images are planned to enable selection of contact science targets for Sol 1416 on Friday, and another ChemCam target will be autonomously selected and LIBS data acquired using AEGIS.  On Sol 1415, Navcam will again search for clouds and Mastcam will measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere.  I'm MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead today, and with only a MARDI post-drive twilight image in the plan, it's been an easy day so far.  But of course it's exciting and fun to be involved in tactical operations!

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 1412-1413: No touch, just Go!]]> Mon, 25 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0700
MSL is making good progress, driving almost 68 meters last weekend.  We had the option of taking some MAHLI images on Sol 1412, but decided to maximize the drive distance instead.  Before the drive, ChemCam and Mastcam will observe bedrock targets "Jamba" and "Huambo" and the Right Mastcam will acquire a 3-image mosaic of a small depression called "Mungo."  After acquiring the post-drive imaging needed to plan future mobility, ChemCam will use AEGIS to autonomously select a new target for a LIBS raster.  Early the next morning, Navcam will search for clouds and dust devils, and Mastcam will measure the dustiness of the atmosphere.  The dust measurements will be repeated at noon and mid-afternoon to look for changes during the day.  The Right Mastcam will also acquire a 14-image mosaic of the Murray Buttes early in the morning, and we finally were able to plan the long-distance RMI mosaic!  The tactical team did a great job of planning today, so it has been a relatively easy day for me as SOWG Chair.

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 1409-1411: Finishing up at Bimbe]]> Fri, 22 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Navcam view of Bimbe

For the weekend plan, we have a bunch more observations of the interesting blocky deposit “Bimbe”. Sol 1409 starts off with a couple of Mastcam images: one of the target “Seeis” and another of the AEGIS target from Sol 1406. Mastcam also has a mosaic to provide more context for the Bimbe blocks. After that, ChemCam has observations of the targets “Seeheim”, “Wilhelmstal”, “Oranjemund”, and “Seeis”. MAHLI then will observe several Bimbe targets, and APXS will analyze two targets: “Funda” and “Zambezi”.

On Sol 1410, ChemCam has an observation of the target “Mariental” with support from Mastcam. After that, we drive and do the usual post-drive imaging. On Sol 1411, Mastcam has an observation of the rover deck to watch for dust and sand that end up on top of the rover. Originally the plan also had the RMI mosaic that I’ve been trying to acquire as well, but it had to be pulled from the plan yet again to save on data volume. I am starting to think this observation is cursed! I’ll have to try again next week.

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 1405-1408: Bimbe Conglomerates]]> Wed, 20 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Hazcam view of the workspace on Sol 1406

After a busy weekend plan, we are back to “restricted” sols this week, planning two days at a time. Monday’s planning for sols 1405-1406 started off with a discussion of whether we wanted to do some brief contact science before driving, or just drive straight for the block deposit called “Bimbe”.

In the end, we decided to keep the contact science in the plan, so sol 1405 included some MAHLI imaging of the target “Guri”. Mastcam had a multispectral observation of Guri as well as “Galo” to look for evidence of hematite. Mastcam also had an observation of an outcrop of possible conglomerate rock. ChemCam had measurements of the bedrock targets “Cela” and “Dala”.

After that we drove toward Bimbe. On sol 1406, we had a Navcam atmospheric observation and a ChemCam AEGIS target. I also advocated for a long-distance RMI mosaic on sol 1406 to make up for the one that was lost when the rover went into safe mode, but the orientation of the rover after the drive made it difficult so it ended up being pulled. (It would have caused ChemCam to slew past the path of the sun in the sky while focused, and we like to avoid any risk of pointing the telescope at the sun). So I’ll have to advocate for that observation some other time.

The sol 1406 drive went perfectly, so this morning we found ourselves in an awesome place to study the blocks and conglomerates at “Bimbe”. Sol 1407 starts with ChemCam observations of the targets “Lucala”, “Cabamba”, and “Bungo”, followed by a Mastcam stereo mosaic of the Bimbe rocks. MAHLI then has several observations of the workspace and a closer look at the target “Sonneblom”, and APXS has an overnight observation of Sonneblom.

On Sol 1408, we have a morning block of atmospheric observations from NavCam and Mastcam, followed by a Mastcam multispectral observation of the target “Tumba” and stereo mosaics of the southern part of Bimbe as well as some rocks in an area called “Balombo”. ChemCam will also observe Sonneblom and Balombo.

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 1402-1404: A juicy weekend plan]]> Fri, 15 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Sol 1400 Mastcam Bimbe

Sol 1401 Front Hazcam

It was a slow morning as we anxiously awaited our downlink at 11am this morning… and then we put together a hefty weekend plan.  We’re in late slide sols this week, so planning has been starting later to wait for critical images to come down.  I’m on duty as GSTL today, and we knew it would be a big plan going in to the weekend.  Once we confirmed that the ~26 m drive went well on Sol 1401, our first task was to evaluate the local bedrock and select a target for contact science.  We selected a target named “Uku” for ChemCam, Mastcam, MAHLI and APXS activities to assess the texture and composition of the Murray formation.  We also planned a ChemCam observation on the target “Songo,” a disturbed block which looks more red than some of the surrounding rocks.  The plan also includes some Mastcam mosaics of the “Bimbe” blocky deposit to see if we want to pursue some additional observations there next week.  Then we had to see if these activities would fit with an already full weekend plan.  On the first and third sols we’re planning to do some environmental monitoring observations coordinated with observations from the MAVEN spacecraft.  This will give us a great dataset from the ground looking up, and from orbit looking down.  As if the plan wasn’t busy enough, we’re also planning some MAHLI imaging of the CheMin inlet, and a SAM geochronology experiment.  Not surprisingly, this is a very power-hungry plan, so we had to trim down some activities during the SOWG meeting.  But we managed to get almost everything into the plan, and have set ourselves up for the possibility of more contact science on Monday.  Should be a fun weekend in Gale crater!

By Lauren Edgar

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.

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

 

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<![CDATA[Theme on Mars Expanded]]> Thu, 14 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0700 "Categories" page in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.]]> <![CDATA[Sol 1401: Analysis of blocky deposits]]> Thu, 14 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Sol 1400 Navcam Bimbe

The drive on Sol 1400 went well, and Curiosity drove ~13 m along the edge of the blocky deposit “Bimbe.”  Today’s plan involves a number of ChemCam and Mastcam observations to assess the composition and textural properties of three large blocks in the deposit.  We’ll also acquire a Mastcam mosaic to document the eastern edge of the deposit, and a Navcam observation to search for dust devils.  Then Curiosity will continue driving to the southwest, followed by standard post-drive imaging.  I’ll be on duty as GSTL tomorrow so I’m looking forward to the weekend plan!

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[Context Camera (CTX) Image Mosaics for Mars Human Exploration Zones]]> Thu, 14 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0700 We have created 39 regional semi-controlled CTX mosaics at 5m/pixel for the 2015 proposed Mars Human Exploration zones. They are individually available for download in GeoTiff format. Cosmetically, mosaics will have hard edges between images due to seasonal, time, and calibration differences. http://bit.ly/CTX_EZs

These regions were originally proposed during the Mars Human Exploration Zone meeting in October 2015. http://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/explorationzone2015/

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<![CDATA[Sol 1400: Approaching the “Bimbe” blocky deposit]]> Wed, 13 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Sol 1398 Mastcam

On Sol 1399, Curiosity drove ~32 m closer to a blocky deposit known as “Bimbe.”  We’ve identified several notable blocky deposits in orbital images, and this will be our last chance to fully investigate one of these deposits on the ground to try to determine their origin.  Today’s plan starts with some Mastcam mosaics to characterize laminations in the Murray bedrock, and to document the “Bimbe” region.  We’ll also study “Bimbe” with ChemCam at a target named “Auchab.”  Additionally, the morning science block includes some systematic atmospheric monitoring with Mastcam.  Today’s drive will hopefully put us about ~20 m closer to the “Bimbe” deposit, and will be followed by post-drive imaging for targeting.  The plan also includes an autonomously-selected ChemCam target.  We’re in late slide sols this week, so it’s been nice getting to start a few hours later in the day… though I’m sure our team members in other parts of the world are ready for sleep!

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 1399: On the road again]]> Tue, 12 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Sol 1398 Navcam

We’re back in our familiar drive pattern, with a short science block followed by a drive.  In today’s pre-drive science block, ChemCam and Mastcam will be used to study the target “Arandis” to document the chemistry of the local bedrock.  Then we’ll acquire several Mastcam mosaics to study some blocky deposits and document laminations in the Murray formation.  A drive of ~45 m is planned, followed by post-drive imaging for targeting.  Curiosity will wake up early the next morning for some environmental monitoring and searching for dust devils.  We were pretty tight on data volume today so we had to trim down the plan a little bit, but that’s why we prioritize our activities so carefully.

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 1398: Back in action]]> Mon, 11 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Sol 1387 Mastcam

After standing down from science operations for a few sols to resolve the safe mode anomaly, it’s great to be on the move again today.  The Sol 1398 plan begins with a short science block, which includes ChemCam and Mastcam observations of the target “Luanda” to assess the chemistry of the local bedrock.  We’ll also acquire several Mastcam mosaics to characterize some blocky deposits and stratification within the Murray formation.  Then Curiosity will drive for ~76 m and acquire post-drive imaging for targeting.  In the afternoon there is another short science block, which includes Navcam and Mastcam observations to monitor the atmosphere.  Overnight, Curiosity will do the final CheMin analysis of the Oudam drill sample.  The plan also includes some additional flight software diagnostics, but it’s great to be back on the road and stretching our legs (rover wheels?) again.  For more information on the anomaly and return to operations, check out this recent press release.

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[Name Approved for Feature on Ganymede: Gushkin]]> Mon, 11 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Gushkin for a small crater on Ganymede. For more information, see the map for Ganymede in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.]]> <![CDATA[Curiosity Update: Safe Mode]]> Wed, 06 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Mastcam view of Murray Buttes showing a precariously balanced boulder.

The activities planned for Sols 1387 and 1388 completed successfully, and lots of good data were returned including a stunning Right Mastcam panorama of the "Murray Buttes" toward the southwest.  One of the images in this panorama shows a boulder that appears to be precariously balanced.  No, we don't plan to drive right up next to it, but we'll probably get closer looks as the rover proceeds toward Mount Sharp. 

 Early on Sol 1389, the rover entered "safe mode", apparently due to a software problem that is still not fully understood.  So the 3-sol plan did not execute but the rover and all subsystems are healthy.  Science planning has been suspended while critical engineering data are returned to Earth and studied by software experts at JPL.  I'm SOWG Chair again today, with not much to do because of the anomaly, but I'm anxiously following the tactical team's progress in recovering from safe mode.

 

 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]]>
<![CDATA[Sol 1389-1391: Holiday Weekend, Good Luck Juno!]]> Fri, 01 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Sol 1387 navcam view

Today we put together a three sol plan to take us through the holiday weekend. On Sol 1389 we do contact science with APXS and MAHLI on the target “Outjo”. SAM also will begin an analysis of some of the “Mojave2” sample that was collected a while ago.

 Sol 1390 starts off with a long science block. This was originally split into two blocks, but during planning we decided it would save some time to combine them. Mastcam starts the block off with a multispectral observation of the brushed target “Outjo”. Then ChemCam has a long distance RMI observation of Mt. Sharp, plus analyses of the targets “Outjo” and “Luanda”. After ChemCam, Mastcam turns back on, and has mosaics of “Bukalo” and “Bailundo” (blocky deposits), “Keetmanshoop” (an outcrop of Murray formation), and “Quimavongo” (a small crater). SAM will also continue its sample analysis.

On Sol 1391 we will drive for about 60 m and then collect post-drive imaging. And then in the early morning on Sol 1392, Navcam and Mastcam have a series of atmospheric observations.

While Curiosity is busy with all of that, and we are all celebrating the 4th of July, the Juno spacecraft will be arriving at Jupiter this weekend! Juno has been flying toward Jupiter for five years, so it’s exciting that it will finally be reaching its destination! Good luck Juno!

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 1387-1388: Limited Targeting Data]]> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Rover arm visible in Sol 1386 image

In the lead up to the long 4th of July weekend, we are planning two sols today and three sols tomorrow. We only had a couple of Navcam images on the ground this morning to help us choose targets, but we still managed to find two targets for ChemCam to analyze on Sol 1387: a rock named “Noordoewer” and a soil named “Savates”. Mastcam will document those targets and take a nice mosaic of the “Murray Buttes”. After that, we have a short drive, followed by post drive imaging. I dialed in to planning this morning and requested some Navcam of Mt. Sharp along with the post drive imaging to help target more long distance ChemCam RMI images. On Sol 1388, we have an easy day: ChemCam has a calibration observation and Navcam has a couple of atmospheric monitoring 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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