Curiosity Front Hazcam Right B on Sol 1657 April 4, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Now in Sol 1658 on Mars, the Curiosity rover has been busy in a remote sensing science campaign.

Ryan Anderson, a planetary scientist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, reports that over the last weekend there was a problem with the Deep Space Network.

The DSN transmits commands to Curiosity, “so the rover didn’t receive its instructions and instead went into “runout” mode, Anderson notes.  In that mode, the robot patiently waits for commands and does some basic environmental monitoring in the meantime.



That means Curiosity controllers went into a “do-over” mode themselves, trying to cram everything from our weekend plan into two sols.

The Sol 1657 plan was to begin with a busy remote sensing science block.

Curiosity’s Navcam will take a couple of images of the workspace. Then the rover’s Mastcam will do a large multispectral mosaic of Vera Rubin Ridge and its interesting iron oxides.

This is then followed by a multispectral observation of the target “Fivemile Brook” and an image to monitor the rover deck, Anderson adds.  Mastcam also has the first of several change monitoring observations in the science block. “These observations are repeated throughout the day to see if any sand moves, he says.

Curiosity Mastcam Right image taken on Sol 1653, March 31, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Long-distance observation

Once Mastcam is done, Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) has a couple of passive calibration activities, followed by a long-distance observation of Mt. Sharp.

Later in the Sol 1657 plan, the robot’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) is slated to take documentation images of the scoop location at Ogunquit, and the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) has a twilight observation of the ground under the rover’s wheels.

The Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite is also to have an engineering activity.

Change detection

On Sol 1658, the plan is to start off with morning atmospheric observations using Navcam and Mastcam, as well as the start of another set of Mastcam change detection images.

The main targeted science block on Sol 1658 has ChemCam observations of the targets “Kamankeag” and “Hamlik Peak” with accompanying Mastcam images. Navcam also has a dust devil movie and a cloud movie in this science block.

A little bit later in the afternoon, Mastcam will repeat its change detection image and do another couple of observations to measure the dust in the atmosphere.

The change detection images will continue on into the evening, and MARDI will also take another image to see what has changed beneath the rover, Anderson concludes.

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