Sol 175 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Runout Plan

31 January 2013

As SOWG Chair again, I worked hard today to fit as many observations into the Sol 175 plan as possible while leaving enough energy in the batteries for Sol 176 activities. Overnight SAM analysis of a blank cell in preparation for a drill sample takes a lot of power, but we were still able to plan lots of additional MAHLI imaging during the day. We had almost finished reviewing and polishing the sequences when the latest data from the rover were received, including some bad news: there was an anomaly during the arm activities on Sol 174. It was too late in the day to make the major changes in the Sol 175 plan needed to respond to this anomaly, so we had to quit work on the Sol 175 plan and let the rover execute the "runout" plan that is routinely included in every day's set of commands. The runout consists of a few simple, safe activities--very different from the complex plan we developed today. While this was disappointing, the rover is safe and will likely recover quickly. When planning is "restricted" as it was today, because Mars and Earth time our out of sync, we have to accept the risk that we will not receive data from the rover in time to respond to it.