USGS Astrogeology Science Center Astrogeology News http://astrogeology.usgs.gov/news News about current and upcoming space missions, USGS gelogic products and historical exhibits en-us <![CDATA[Sols 1439-1440: Target names that start with Q]]> Mon, 22 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700

Our weekend drive halted a little bit early, but everything is looking good and we will continue to drive in today’s plan. We will start off the Sol 1439 plan with ChemCam observations of the layered rock targets “Quibala” and “Quibaxe”. Mastcam will then image Quibala, followed by a whole bunch of mosaics documenting the stratigraphy in the nearby buttes as well as the locations called “Quibaxe”, “Quipungo” and “Quicombo”. (I think the people choosing names today got a little carried away with names starting with Q...) After that the rover will drive, and we will follow up with post-drive imaging as well as a ChemCam AEGIS observation.

The following morning, Mastcam and Navcam have some atmospheric observations, and then in the afternoon ChemCam will analyze its calibration targets.

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 1436: Smooth sailing]]> Fri, 19 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700

We are making good progress with our drives (we’re already approaching our next drill site!) and the road in front of us is looking pretty smooth. As usual we have a busy weekend planned. Sol 1436 starts off with ChemCam and Mastcam of the layered rock targets “Conda” and “Savungo”. Mastcam then has a mosaic of one of the buttes, and another mosaic of an interesting feature within the Murray formation called “Chitado”. Later in the day, MAHLI will take a look at the targets “Biula” and “Conda”. Then Curiosity will brush the dust off of Conda and do an overnight APXS measurement. CheMin will also do another analysis of Marimba2 overnight.

On Sol 1437, ChemCam has a passive observation of Conda and an RMI mosaic of the target “Chicala”. Mastcam will also take a picture of Chicala and do an atmospheric measurement. In the morning on Sol 1438, Mastcam has a big 16x3 mosaic of the Murray Buttes, and Navcam has an atmospheric observation. Then the rover will have a long drive (60-90 m) followed by the usual post-drive imaging. 

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 1433: Butte-iful scenery]]> Wed, 17 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700

Yestersol’s drive went nicely, so today the plan looks quite similar, with a remote sensing block followed by another 50 meters of driving! The Sol 1433 plan starts with ChemCam and Mastcam of the target “Klein Klipneus”. After that, Mastcam has a couple of mosaics to continue admiring the scenery (a.k.a. studying the stratigraphy of the Murray Buttes). Then Curiosity will drive and collect post-drive imaging, followed by an untargeted science block with Mastcam and Navcam atmospheric observations. CheMin will also be doing its third analysis of the “Marimba2” drill sample and then reading out its data to be downlinked.

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 1434-1435: Inspecting Wheels and Buttes]]> Wed, 17 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Mastcam view of one of the Murray Buttes

Once again our drive went smoothly and we’re planning to drive some more in today’s plan! The Sol 1434 plan starts out with ChemCam observations of the targets “Cubal” and “Soyo”. Mastcam will document those two targets and then continue the effort to study the nearby buttes. The team is really enjoying the spectacular scenery because it means there is a lot of interesting geology on display! In the afternoon on Sol 1434, we will check out the rover’s wheels with MAHLI. On Sol 1435 Curiosity will drive about 65 meters and do the usual post-drive imaging. In the afternoon on Sol 1435 there is a short science block, during which ChemCam will make a calibration measurement. 

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 1432: Crossing the sand]]> Mon, 15 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700 ChemCam RMI image of a precariously balanced rock.

The weekend plan went well, so the plan for Sol 1432 is to keep driving! Curiosity will go about 52 meters across a patch of sand, but before that we have a short science block. ChemCam will observe the target “Longa” and Mastcam has two mosaics of the nearby buttes. After the drive, we have post-drive imaging, and some onboard data processing of the MAHLI images of the “Marimba” drill hole, as well as some CheMin data processing. In the morning of Sol 1433 we are planning some atmospheric observations with Navcam and Mastcam, although one of them had to be removed from the plan when we realized that one of the nearby buttes was blocking our view of the crater rim!

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 1429-1431: Power limited]]> Fri, 12 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700
MSL drove over 45 meters on Sol 1428, closer to the Murray Buttes.  I helped select ChemCam targets again this morning, and was glad to see that some of them made it into the weekend plan.  The primary constraint on planning today ended up being power--we tried to fit more into the plan than the rover's batteries could support!  But we were still able to include a lot of good activities into the plan, starting with a dust devil search, dust opacity measurements, and Mastcam stereo mosaics of the Murray Buttes on Sol 1429.  ChemCam will acquire LIBS data on bedrock targets "Matala," "Cazombo," and "Ondjiva" before the Right Mastcam takes a 7x3 mosaic that includes the ChemCam targets.  Overnight and into the early morning hours of Sol 1430, SAM will perform the first part of an experiment on the Mojave drill sample that has been stored in the instrument for several months.  The second part of the SAM experiment is planned for the next night, completing early on Sol 1431.  Finally, a drive is planned for Sol 1431, followed by acquisition of the data needed to plan another drive on Monday.  So, even though we had to remove some activities during planning, the rover will be very busy this weekend!

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[Sol 1428: Downlink limited]]> Thu, 11 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700
MSL drove 11 meters on Sol 1427, and a longer drive is planned for Sol 1428.  I helped select ChemCam targets today; the number of possible science observations was constrained by the time available before the drive, so only one LIBS measurement is planned, on a bedrock target southeast of the rover named "Xangongo."  Mastcam will image this target as well, and measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere.  The amount of data we expect to receive in time for planning tomorrow is more limited than usual, so we are unlikely to receive enough post-drive data to plan both contact science and a drive this weekend.  The tactical team decided that driving has higher priority, so critical post-drive imaging is focused on supporting mobility planning.  Overnight, CheMin will perform another analysis of the Marimba drill sample, to improve the quality of mineralogical data. 

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[Sol 1427: Driving away]]> Wed, 10 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Sol 1421 Mastcam Murray Buttes

After successfully completing the drilling activities at Marimba, it’s time to get back on the road.  Today’s plan is focused on targeted remote sensing and driving.  The plan starts with a Navcam movie to monitor the atmosphere, followed by Mastcam documentation of several autonomously selected ChemCam targets.  Then we’ll acquire a couple of ChemCam observations and Mastcam multispectral imaging of the Marimba pre-sieve dump pile before driving away.  After a short drive we’ll acquire images for context and targeting.  Overnight, Curiosity will complete a SAM electrical baseline test to monitor instrument health. Based on some of the recent Mastcam images that we’ve acquired (as seen above), the view ahead should be quite scenic as we drive through the Murray Buttes!

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 1426: CheMin data readout and contact science at Marimba]]> Tue, 09 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Sol 1422 Mastcam Marimba drill holeToday’s plan is focused on retrieving CheMin data from the overnight analysis of the Marimba drill sample and MAHLI and APXS observations of the drill hole and cuttings.  The plan starts with a short science block for atmospheric monitoring, followed by CheMin data readout.  Then we’ll do a short Mastcam change detection activity before dumping the pre-sieved drill sample.  After we dump the sample, we’ll acquire Mastcam, Navcam and MAHLI images to document the pile.  In the afternoon, we’ll repeat the atmospheric monitoring and change detection activities.  Overnight, Curiosity will stay active, starting with MAHLI nighttime imaging of the drill hole to better control illumination conditions, followed by MAHLI imaging of the CheMin inlet, and finally, an overnight APXS integration on the full drill tailings.  This drill site has been challenging, but we’re back on track and ready to drive away soon! 

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 1425: Trying again to deliver drill sample to CheMin]]> Mon, 08 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700

The second attempt to drill into Marimba went well, but the new drill sample was not transferred to CHIMRA due to a recurrence of the electrical short in the percussion mechanism.  Therefore, the sample was not delivered to CheMin as planned.  So we tried again on Sol 1425, this time without percussion (using only more gentle vibration).  This made for a rather busy day for me as SOWG Chair, but once the engineering team decided that it was safe to proceed, planning went very smoothly.  We were able to add some remote science observations before the sample transfer and dropoff to CheMin:  Mastcam will take images of the drill tailings through all filters, ChemCam will acquire passive spectra of the new drill tailings and the sieved Oudam sample pile, and a LIBS observation of the drill hole wall.  CheMin will analyze the Marimba drill sample overnight, then Mastcam will measure the dust in the atmosphere early on the morning of Sol 1426. 

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[Sol 1421: Determining drill activities at Marimba]]> Fri, 05 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Sol 1420 MAHLI mini drill Marimba

On Sol 1420 we planned a full drill hole on the target “Marimba” to characterize the composition of the Murray mudstone in this location.  However, we came in early this morning to find that the drill hole didn’t penetrate very far into this rock target, as seen in the above MAHLI image.  We’re trying to evaluate why this drill hole is different, and what prevented the drill from completing as planned.  The rover is healthy and all other activities completed successfully, so this might just be a harder rock target than we’ve seen before.

I was the GSTL today, and it was a complicated morning as we worked through several options for today’s plan.  We decided to stick to remote sensing today while we continue to evaluate the drill activity and options moving forward.  The GEO group decided to take advantage of the shallow drill hole as a way to assess variations in chemistry with depth.  So we planned some Mastcam multispectral and ChemCam passive observations of the drill tailings, as well as a ChemCam LIBS observation across the drill hole.  The plan also includes a ChemCam observation of “Cabinda” to assess an alternative drill site, as well as the target “Epukiro” to investigate an interesting vein.  We’ll also use Mastcam and ChemCam to assess the post-sieve dump piles from the previous drill target “Oudam,” which we dumped on a nearby rock slab.  Then Curiosity will use Mastcam and Navcam to monitor the atmosphere and search for dust devils.  In the afternoon, we’ll acquire a 360-degree Mastcam mosaic to provide geologic context for this drill site.  I’ll be on duty again tomorrow, hoping to pick back up with drilling activities!

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 1422-1424: It’s my party and I’ll drill if I want to…]]> Fri, 05 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700 Sol 1420 Mastcam mini Marimba drill hole

Sol 1420 Mastcam drill bit

 

Happy birthday Curiosity!  As we celebrate four Earth years of operations on Mars, Curiosity will be busy collecting another drill sample.  In honor of her birthday, check out all of the great science that we’ve accomplished in the last year in this video.

Curiosity’s birthday party on Mars kicks off with another attempt to drill the “Marimba” mudstone target.  While this target might be harder than previous rocks that we’ve drilled, we’re optimistic that the drill will complete successfully.  I was the GSTL again today, and it was a fairly straightforward planning day. The first sol is focused on drilling and imaging the drill hole and tailings.  On the second sol we’ll acquire ChemCam RMI images of the drill hole so we can target it with ChemCam LIBS on Monday.  We’re also planning a Mastcam stereo image of the location that we’ll dump the pre-sieved material.  In the afternoon we’ll transfer the drill sample, sieve it, and drop off a portion to CheMin.  Then we’ll let CheMin analyze it overnight.  On the third sol we have a science block devoted to Mastcam multispectral imaging of the drill hole and tailings, along with a ChemCam automated targeting test, and Navcam atmospheric monitoring.  Later in the day we’ll acquire a few Mastcam images as part of a change detection activity.  

Sounds like a fun-filled weekend for our four-year-old rover.  Happy birthday Curiosity.  Have your mudstone and eat it too.

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 1420: Drilling Marimba]]> Wed, 03 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700
The Sol 1419 activities completed successfully, including cleaning the remaining Oudam sample out of CHIMRA.  So the focus of the Sol 1420 plan is drilling into the Marimba bedrock target.  But first, MAHLI will image the "noseprint" of the APXS contact sensor in the Oudam dump pile and the drill target from various distances.  After the drilling has completed, the drill bit and the new drill hole will be imaged by many of the MSL cameras.  And once again, we were able to fit some additional Mastcam observations into the plan:  Measurements of dust in the atmosphere, a stereo mosaic extending coverage of the arm workspace, images of targets "Cota 1" and "Cota 2" to serve as a baseline for detecting changes in sand deposits this weekend, and two stereo pairs to improve coverage of one of the Murray Buttes.  The MAHLI activities were all part of the drill campaign that was planned in advance, so it was an easy day for me as uplink lead.

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[Sol 1419: Cleaning CHIMRA]]> Tue, 02 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700
The drilling campaign on Marimba continues, dominating the Sol 1419 plan.  Again, the tactical operations team was able to squeeze some additional science activities into the plan:  ChemCam and Mastcam will observe a laminated bedrock exposure called "Namibe," and the Right Mastcam will image the two targets autonomously observed by ChemCam on Sol 1417.  Then the arm work resumes, with a brief interruption for a Mastcam stereo mosaic of Murray Buttes in the afternoon.  After CHIMRA is cleaned and inspected by the cameras, MAHLI will image the last of the previous drill sample and APXS placed on the dump pile for an overnight integration.  I'll be MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead tomorrow, so I dialed in to tactical operations meetings today to keep up to date.

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[Sol 1418: Preparing to drill Marimba]]> Mon, 01 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0700
Today’s plan was all about setting up for our next drill hole. Originally there was going to be no science block at all, but we ended up with a little bit more power than expected, so we managed to fit in a ChemCam observation of the expected drill target, called “Marimba” along with Mastcam documentation.  Once that was done, the rover dumped its sieved sample from our previous drill at “Oudam” and did some contact science on Marimba. This included MAHLI and APXS of the drill location before and after brushing the dust off, Mastcam inspection of various rover components, and the “pre-load” test where we make sure the rock can handle the pressure exerted by the drill. If all of that goes well, we should be able to drill later this 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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