MISSION UPDATES | September 20, 2012

Sol 44 Update on Curiosity from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: Everything is Jake

Written by Ken Herkenhoff, Planetary Geologist at USGS Astrogeology Science Center

Once again, the rover planners (drivers) displayed their ability to position MSL accurately, leaving the rover right where we wanted . It looks like the rock named "Jake Matijevic" will suffice for the first examination of Mars by the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) and close-up imaging by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI). The Sol 44 plan included Mastcam color imaging of " Jake Matijevic" that will be used to decide whether this rock is suitable for the long-anticipated arm activities. The rock was named after a pioneering JPL robotics expert who played a major role in the development and operation of the Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, and MSL rovers. I am lucky to have known Jake; we met during preparations for the Mars
Pathfinder (and Sojourner) mission in the mid-1990s. His name is still posted outside his JPL office in the MSL operations area, and I'm sad every time I walk past it. He would have loved to see how well MSL is doing.

We all celebrated the Mastcam images of the Phobos transit . I've enjoyed astronomy since I was a child, but astronomical observations from the surface of Mars are a special treat! Similar observations have been made from the Spirt and Opportunity rovers, but the new Mastcam images have much higher resolution. Such observations are not top priority for Mars rovers, but opportunities to view Phobos and Deimos transits are rare enough that considerable effort it put in to planning them. Because the Opportunity rover is at about the same latitude as MSL (near the equator), observations of solar transits by the Martian satellites were also planned today by the Opportunity team.