Astrogeology Science Center

Sol 10 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Science Kickoff

15 August 2012
After a nice vacation in Flagstaff, I returned to JPL in time for Sol 10
planning.  I was scheduled this time as Science Operations Working Group
(SOWG) Chair, with responsibility for leading the discussion of data
received the previous sol and deciding what to do the next sol.  This job
is part of the first shift, which just happened to start at about the same
time I was starting my second shift PUL work before my break in Flagstaff.
So I arrived at JPL around 5:15 AM, early in twilight, when the waning
crescent moon, Venus and Jupiter formed a beautiful line among the "winter"
constellations rising in the east.  A nice aspect of working first shift is
that it involves more interaction with the science team, which is less
involved in detailed command sequence planning during second shift.  I
started my work day by getting back up to speed on rover operations,
looking at recent data and discussing priorities for new scientific
observations.  Rover checkout continues, and we are getting more scientific
data from various instruments.

During the first big meeting of the day, the "Science Kickoff," we heard
updates on each of the instruments.  We all applauded when the Dynamic
Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) instrument reported successful completion of their
first "passive" observation, in which naturally-generated neutrons were
measured from Mars.  We also received some more MARDI (descent image) full
frames, all of which are beautiful, and there are many more MARDI images
still awaiting transmission to Earth.  More instrument checkouts were
planned for Sol 10, as well as continued updates of rover software.  At the
end of my shift, I handed off science leadership to the SUR (Science Uplink
Representative, the same role I filled during the first 3 planning sols)
and gave him some advice based on my previous experience.  Then I attended
a cameras team meeting in another building at JPL that ended up running
late, so that I didn't leave JPL until about 6:30, over 13 hours after I
arrived.  But I felt good despite the long hours, and recalled working an
average of 14 hours/day during the early part of the Spirit and Opportunity
missions.  So not a bad day at all!