Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B image taken on Sol 1853 October 23, 2017
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Space is hard,” reports Scott Guzewich, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Scientists had prepared a packed science plan for NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, now wrapping up Sol 1855 duties. On the master plan, along with taking a sure-to-be spectacular panorama of the Gale Crater floor, the rover was to use its Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite to study a “doggy-bagged” sample of martian sand from a location called “Ogunquit Beach.”

That sample has been onboard the robot for months, Guzewich adds.

Technical issues

However, technical issues with NASA’s Deep Space Network of satellite dishes around the world prevented rover controllers from sending Curiosity its marching orders. “But, those activities will hopefully be retried in the next few days,” Guzewich says.

Curiosity Mastcam Left image acquired on Sol 1853, October 23, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Since last December, the Curiosity engineering and scientific team has been busily diagnosing and then creating work-around plans to fix a problem with the robot’s drill. “That effort has made excellent progress,” Guzewich notes, “and we hope to be able to drill Mars rocks again in the not-too-distant future!”

Inlet imaging

Associated with getting the drill working is designing new methods to deliver samples of rocks to the rover’s built-in laboratories: the Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction/X-Ray Fluorescence Instrument and SAM.

Curiosity Mastcam Left image acquired on Sol 1853, October 23, 2017.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

 

Meanwhile, Curiosity’s Mastcam has recently imaged the inlets for SAM on the rover.

As of Sol 1850, Curiosity has chalked up 10.95 miles (17.63 kilometers) of driving since landing in the area in August 2012.

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