Astrogeology Science Center

Update On Curiosity From USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Active During Shutdown

17 October 2013

I apologize for the gap in these updates— the USGS web servers were turned off during the government shutdown. Thanks to support from the MSL Project Scientist and my supervisor, I was permitted to support MSL tactical operations during the shutdown. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to attend the MSL science team meeting Oct. 1-3, but at least I could keep up with rover operations. I was MAHLI/MARDI PUL on October 8th and 10th, and SOWG Chair Oct. 14-15. The priority continues to be on driving, and we are a few drive sols away from the next waypoint. The team has agreed to make the stop for contact science at the next waypoint very brief, minimizing the delay in progress toward Aeolis Mons (Mt. Sharp), the ultimate goal of the mission. As winter approaches in Gale Crater, the lower temperatures mean that more heating, and therefore power, is needed for rover activities. This in turn constrains the time available for scientific observations and driving, so recent plans generally contain fewer activities that they did a few weeks ago. Still, it's good to be back at work full time, helping MSL and other missions achieve their goals.