Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo taken on ,January 19, 2016, during Sol 1228. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) photo taken on January 19, 2016, during Sol 1228 operations.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

The Curiosity rover on Mars has run into an anomaly using its Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) device. That hardware is attached to the turret at the end of the robotic arm on the Red Planet machinery.

“The cause of the CHIMRA anomaly is still being investigated,” reports Ken Herkenhoff of the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona. The problem has curtailed robotic arm motion, while diagnostic testing on CHIMRA continues.

Bad behavior

The CHIMRA behaved in an unexpected way during processing of the third scoop of sand back on Sol 1231. Experts have been evaluating the anomalous behavior of the device and developing a recovery plan.

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity image taken on Sol 1221, January 12, 2016. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity image taken on Sol 1221, January 12, 2016.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Only remote science observations from Curiosity are being allowed, Herkenhoff adds.

Curiosity is now in Sol 1237 operations.

MRO maintenance

There has been a reduction in volume of data from the rover, Herkenhoff notes, because the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is undertaking pre-planned maintenance this week and cannot relay data from Curiosity. “Fortunately, it looks like we will be able to get all the critical data via the Mars Odyssey orbiter,” he points out.

In addition to the CHIMRA diagnostic tests on Sol 1237, the rover’s Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) and Mastcam were to image the alluvial fan northeast of the rover, at the base of the Gale crater wall.

Wheel scuff in stereo

The rover’s Mastcam and Navcam are also to take stereo images of the edge of the area disturbed by Curiosity’s wheel “scuff” named “Mniszechis Vlei.”

Herkenhoff explains that the command to allow the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite to examine a sample of dune sand was not received, “so we’ll try again overnight between Sols 1237 and 1238.”

The plan calls for Sol 1238 to include day use of ChemCam to observe the sky and continue checking out new software that will allow autonomous ChemCam targeting.

CURIOSITY Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) image taken on January 19, 2016, Sol 1228. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

CURIOSITY Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) image taken on January 19, 2016, Sol 1228.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

 

Detection observations

“Mastcam change detection observations of the sand dune are also sprinkled throughout the plan,” says Herkenhoff.

Finally, just after sunset the Remote Micro Imager (RMI) telescope is slated to take images of the sky for instrument calibration. “We have been trying to plan this observation for weeks, and were glad to be able to include it in today’s plan,” Herkenhoff concludes.

 

 

NOTE: Dates of planned rover activities are all subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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