Astrogeology Science Center

Sol 687 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ryan Anderson: Soliday

12 July 2014

Today we received data from sol 685, showing that we drove 60.4 meters, and the rover is busy doing its sol 686 activities right now. Today we are planning sols 687 and 688 to cover the weekend (Sunday is a soliday, which is a day without planning to allow Earth and Mars schedules to sync back up). We’re trying something special in the sol 687 plan: MAHLI is going to capture a picture of the plasma plume generated when ChemCam zaps a rock! Because of the low atmospheric pressure on Mars, the spark of plasma generated when ChemCam’s laser zaps a rock is larger and brighter than it would be on Earth. This is a complicated activity that has required lots of pre-planning but hopefully it will show a nice bright spark. After ChemCam zaps the rock (dubbed Nova), and MAHLI catches it in the act, we will take advantage of the fact that the rover’s arm is already out and place the APXS on the rock to do an overnight integration. Then, on sol 688, we will do another drive.

Meanwhile, most of the Mars scientists on the team are getting ready to head to the 8th International Conference on Mars next week (it’s actually in Pasadena, California, not on Mars). The rover will be doing rapid traverse sols next week so the plans will be light on science and focused on driving. Your blogging team will also be in Pasadena, so we won’t be able to do our daily Curiosity updates here, but we will try to put up a few brief posts about some of the interesting Mars science at the conference!

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.