This blog is a record of my experiences and work during the Mars Science Laboratory mission, from the preparation, landing on August 5th 2012 Pacific Time, and onwards... I will also post updates about our other Mars work on meteorites, ExoMars and new missions. You can also follow the planetary science activities with @LeicsPlanets Professor John Bridges, Leicester Institute for Space and Earth Observation, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy (PS. Previous posts in this blog can be found at: http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/physics/research/src/res/planetary-science/mslblog)
The field area for Curiosity along its traverse (currently nearly 18 km) is divided into a series of map qaudrangles. Each of these has outcrop and feature names based on a region of Earth e.g. South Africa, Maine etc. We are just about to move into a Scottish quad. With colleagues in our Participating Scientist […]
The Curiosity Rover has reached an elevation of 300 metres above our landing site. We have made it up the first part of Vera Rubin Ridge and are now starting to get some views down and over the Gale Crater plains. The crater rim mountains can be seen in the distance. This is a […]
The 5th August marks 5 Earth years since the successful landing of Mars Science Laboratory. During the landing I was at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. We were all nervous but the signals for successful atmospheric entry, parachute deployment, Skycrane operation and then landing all came through. The first image of Mt Sharp […]
No new photos from Mars Science laboratory. Why? We have reached Solar Conjunction – this is the time in the planets’ orbits when Mars is obscured from the Earth by the Sun. During this period communications between Mars Science Laboratory and Earth via the orbiters like MRO are very limited. We have parked for conjunction […]
This Navigation camera image gives feel for the slopes of Aeolis Mons that we are climbing now. Daily drives often now ascend ~2 m and we have more battery recharging days. We are just a few drives from Vera Rubin Ridge (VRR) where we will test the ‘ground truth’ for the orbital identification of the […]
After 4.5 years, 16.2 km of driving and 1679 martian days (sols) the Curiosity Rover has reached the point here we are starting to leave the Bagnold dunes in Gale Crater. We have driven parallel to these basaltic dunes for the first part of the mission then cut through them at the Bagnold crossing. The next big […]
The second Bagnold Dunes campaign is now drawing to a close. We have a sieved (150 micron) sample of the dune in the internal cache which will be used for SAM isotope and organic analyses, and CheMin mineral identification. Here we see an array (a ’10 by 1′) of ChemCam laser shots captured by MastCam.
We are continuing the Bagnold Dunes campaign, with stops 3 and 4. This NavCam view shows the Curiosity robotic arm for the team’s examination. Here we have checked the position of the MAHLI cover (seen at the bottom of the robotic arm turret) and all is as planned for future operations.
We have been examining Ireson Hill and found this unusual 10-15 cm diameter rock- called Passagassawakakeag ! The shape is an almost perfect Dreikanter. That’s a German word for a sample in desert or periglacial environments formed by the abrasion of blown sand. Dreikanters typically have a pyramid shape with flat wind-abraded facets.
We have started the second part of the Bagnold Dunes campaign. This NavCam image shows Bagnold dunes in front of Ireson Hill. This first in the current dunes campaign is Called Mapleton. Good news for the MSL team is that ChemCam is back in operation after having an electrical fault. We have started with a […]