Last weekend's 3-sol plan included back-to-back drives on Sols 436 and 437. This is the first time in the mission that this has been attempted. There was no tactical planning on Monday to allow Mars and Earth time to synch up, but the rover drivers reviewed the available data before giving their go for the second drive. There was applause during the SOWG meeting when the rover drivers announced that both drives had completed successfully!
This morning, planning started at 6:00 PDT, earlier than usual, to give us enough time to complete planning before the commands must be sent to the rover this afternoon. So we are sort of back on Mars time today, which is exciting enough that I had no trouble getting up before dawn. I'm MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead today, planning the usual images after another drive toward the second waypoint, called Cooperstown.
NASA / JPL / MSSS / John van Vliet
Cooperstown ("Waypoint 2"), Curiosity sol 439
On sol 439, Curiosity had completed about a third of her long drive toward Mount Sharp. Cooperstown is the second outcrop of rock that Curiosity paused at on the way (the first being Darwin). While at Cooperstown, Curiosity performed a software upgrade and suffered a problem that put her into safe mode for a few days, but she recovered by sol 449. This image has been processed from archival data from the Planetary Data System.
Sol 440: Low Scarp (31 October 2013)
The rover is very close to a low scarp that is the target for contact science this weekend. The Sol 440 plan includes a bunch of targeted ChemCam and Mastcam observations, followed by a short drive (or "bump") to the low scarp dubbed "Cooperstown." The planning schedule is tight, so we started at 7 AM this morning to give us time to check all the command sequences before they have to be sent to the rover this evening. I'm SOWG Chair today and tomorrow. If the Sol 440 drive goes well, we will be planning lots of remote sensing and contact science for the weekend.
NASA / JPL / Jan van Driel
Curiosity Navcam panorama from Cooperstown, sol 440
Sol 441 - 443: Deploying the Arm (1 November 2013)
Planning started at 6:30 this morning to allow enough time to plan 3 sols before we have to send the command sequences to the rover by 19:00 this evening. The science theme groups requested lots of good observations, expecting that they wouldn't all fit into the plan. It was therefore a hectic day, but all of the science observations made it into the plan! After taking lots of ChemCam and Mastcam data, the arm will be deployed to acquire MAHLI images and elemental chemical data using APXS. On the last sol, the arm will be stowed in preparation for an upgrade of flight software that will take all next week.
NASA / JPL / MSSS / Emily Lakdawalla
Cooperstown outcrop, Curiosity sol 441
Curiosity snapped 16 images through its high-resolution Mastcam-100 on sol 441 (November 2, 2013) to examine the Cooperstown outcrop up close. Angular clasts appear to be embedded in a massive matrix. The underlying rock is less resistant to erosion, so the outcrop is undercut.
Flight Software Upgrades (7 November 2013)
There are no science observations planned this week while the rover flight software is upgraded. This upgrade was planned well in advance, and if all goes well science and drive planning will resume on Monday.
I'm SOWG Chair today, but focused on tomorrow's plan because Sol 451 is dedicated to recovering from last week's software anomaly. So far, the recovery is going well and we are planning to resume normal science operations on Sol 452. We have received lots of data acquired during the Cooperstown contact science campaign and are happy with the results.