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)
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 […]
We have found another (the 4th) meteorite. The fist sized sample called Ames_Knob – which was analysed by ChemCam – turns out to be composed of Fe and Ni metal. This iron meteorite looks like it fragmented in the martian atmosphere, producing fragments like Ames_Knob and Egg_Rock, Lebanon and Littleton. It is notably fresh and […]
I am Geo-Min Science theme lead for todays plan. As usual after 4 years of operations we are doing 3 sols of planning at one go. The plan will actually be executed on Mars in about a week’s time. We have recently identified some extraordinary cracking patterns in the mudstone. We hope to put APXS and the ChemCam […]
The Precipice drilling campaign has been curtailed because of a drill fault. The MSL rover engineers have been conducting a series of diagnostic tests to determine the cause and to prevent it happening again. We have been using the opportunity to examine sand movement rates (using HazCam images) in the current martian environment.
We have started our 19th drill or scoop. Curiosity now aims to drill at regular elevation intervals (25 m) as we progress up through the Murray formation. This will give us a representative set of mineral and compositional analyses so that we can track any environmental changes. In this HazCam image we are using the […]
We have found an iron meteorite – called Egg Rock. Curiosity was close enough to determine that it is composed of iron, with some nickel.The textureson the urface shows regmaglypts wher the atmosphere ablated the iron. It seems to have s fresh, unweathered surface suggesting it fell relatively recently in the Mars past, long after […]