Sols 1566-1568: Preparing for the holidays

21 December 2016

Sol 1553 Mastcam Old Soaker

Today was our last tactical planning day before the team takes a break over the holidays.  But that doesn’t mean that Curiosity will be resting!  A group of science team members and operations staff assembled an 8-sol plan that will execute over December 22-30, focused on environmental monitoring and change detection.  Today’s tactical planning was aimed at creating a 3-sol plan that will take place over New Year’s, from December 31- January 2.  When we return to normal operations on January 3, we’ll dive right back in to a campaign investigating some interesting fracture patterns at “Old Soaker,” seen in the Mastcam image above.

Today’s 3-sol plan starts with Mastcam multispectral observations of the targets “Old Soaker” and “Schooner Head” to assess their red and gray color variations.  This is followed by a Navcam observation to search for dust devils.  Then ChemCam will target “Moore Harbor” and “Northeast Harbor” to look for variations in chemistry.  In the afternoon, we’ll use MAHLI to investigate the grain size and sedimentary structures at “Bar Island,” Thompson Island,” and “Mill Field,” and overnight we’ll let APXS integrate on “Mill Field” and “Thompson Island.”  On the second sol, we’ll move the APXS to “Bar Island” for an overnight integration, along with a SAM electrical baseline test.  On the third sol we’ll retract the arm to enable additional remote sensing of the workspace, including ChemCam on “Goose Cove,” “Deep Cove,” and “Dix Point,” a small Mastcam mosaic, and some environmental monitoring observations.  It should be a busy week for Curiosity, and I’m looking forward to seeing all of the exciting data that she’ll collect while the team is enjoying a break.  It’s been quite the year for our rover: we have drilled six holes, performed two scoops, driven 3 km, and climbed 85 vertical meters!  I can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring. This will be the last blog until January 3 when we resume normal operations.  Until then – may your sols be merry and bright, and safe travels as you rove into the New Year!

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.