Curiosity Navcam Left B image taken on Sol 1544, December 9, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

An update from Ryan Anderson of the USGS Astrogeology Science Center: “Unfortunately, one of the drill diagnostics early in the plan indicated a problem, which prevented most of the other activities for the weekend (including the arm motion and drive) from happening.”

So the upshot is that Curiosity remains sitting at “Precipice” for Sol 1548-1549.

More drill diagnostics are being called for.

Presently, the robot is in Sol 1548 as of this posting.

Now in Sol 1547, NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover’s troubled arm-mounted drill is back using standard commands.

“This is great news, and the anomaly response team has cleared the rover for use of the arm and driving, but not yet drilling,” reports Lauren Edgar, a Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Fracture patterns

A recent plan had the rover wrap up work at the “Precipice” location and drive to a nearby site to investigate interesting fracture patterns.

A three-sol weekend plan was to start with another Mastcam tau and crater rim extinction observation to monitor dust in the atmosphere, Edgar notes. This was to be followed by Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) observations of “The Anvil” and “Blue Hill” to investigate variations in chemistry in the Murray bedrock.

Curiosity Mastcam Left image taken on Sol 1545, December 10, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


Curiosity was also slated to take a Mastcam mosaic to provide additional context for the “Precipice” site.  Following that activity, the script called for Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) imaging of “Echo Lake,” “Beachcroft,” and “The Anvil,” with a short Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) integration on “Beachcroft” and an overnight integration on “Echo Lake.”

“This should return a great dataset to understand the chemistry and sedimentary structures here,” Edgar explains.

Unusual color variation

On the second sol, Curiosity was scheduled to acquire a ChemCam observation of “Western Head,” an area that showed some unusual color variation.

“We’ll also extend the Mastcam mosaic of “Squid Cove” and take a couple of Navcam movies to monitor the atmosphere.  Throughout the plan we’ll take several front and rear Hazcam images for additional change detection observations,” Edgar adds.

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo taken on Sol 1546, December 11, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL


There was also slated to be an overnight Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite activity using the Evolved Gas Analysis (EGA) that makes use of the residual derivatization vapor in the sample manipulation system.

Curiosity was set for third sol work, driving toward the region with fractures, and take post-drive imaging to prepare for possible contact science this week.

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