Extra energy for alien science! – NASA’s Mars Exploration Program

This image was taken by Mast Camera (Mastcam) aboard NASA’s Curiosity rover on Sol 3291. Credits: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS. Download image ›

When the operations team connected today, we were ready to pick up where Monday’s team left off in Curiosity’s ongoing exercise campaign in Zechstein.. But then we got news: even though the original plan already included two big science blocks, the rover still had extra power to spare! In order to take advantage of this excess energy, the team added another science block to the plan and strategically positioned it to occur in the morning around 8 a.m. local Martian time. While science boulders typically occur in the middle of the day, this early morning time was desirable as it would provide better illumination for acquiring a ChemCam RMI image of a nearby complex rock outcrop (shown in the Mastcam image above). Additionally, the extra heat needed to run the instruments during the cold morning hours would use more of the rover’s available power. In other words, this new morning block has been good for both science and operations – a win-win!

The other two science blocks in the plan were also filled to the brim with activity: two Mastcam mosaics were planned on the local bedrock, including the “Hare Stone” target, and a third Mastcam mosaic will provide stereo coverage of a ripple. of curved sand that can be seen from orbit. A Passive ChemCam observation will collect additional data on a pebble that has been previously studied using ChemCam LIBS. Additional ChemCam LIBS measurements and associated Mastcam documentation images will be acquired on “Tong Saltings” and “Stack of Handa” bedrock targets. A third Mastcam documentation image of the Zechstein borehole will be used to monitor wind-induced changes in drill residue. The rover will also collect a set of environmental observations from Navcam, including devil, suprahorizon and zenith films, as well as a line-of-sight image to study atmospheric dust levels. Even with all the activities planned over the next two sols, the rover should have enough energy to get into the plan on Friday for another full weekend of science!

About Travis Durham

Travis Durham

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