MISSION UPDATES | May 19, 2021

Sol 3124-3125: Switch it off and on Again…

Written by Susanne Schwenzer, Planetary Geologist at The Open University
Curiosity took an image of the martian surface.

This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3122. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Download image ›

First things first, we had a few stubborn technical devices on Mars and Earth to contend with today. My planning day here on Earth started with a computer that wouldn’t react to anything just 3 minutes before I had to call in… While terrestrial computer problems are usually being solvable by switch it off and on again, recovering on Mars takes just a little longer. And back online I learned that recovering on Mars is what we have to do… The problem was a stubborn MAHLI cover. Consequently, the plan contains recovery activities to take an image of the cover. Diagnosing hiccups on Mars is not always as simple as ‘switch it off and on again,’ … but I am just a mineralogist, so I better leave that part to the engineers!

As before, if the rover finds itself on the same parking spot, the science team develops ideas what to do, and often those are building on the ideas developed in the last planning session, observations that came second in a close race to the front runner of the last plan, and new ideas from the data already received. Today was no exception, and the team managed to assemble an exciting set of observations that will tell us even more about the mineralogy and geochemistry of the location than we had hoped for.

Curiosity will perform one ChemCam active observation on the target “La Donzelle.” ChemCam is also busy with two long distance mosaics to image the fascinating landscape that the flanks of Mt Sharp offer. Mastcam is performing a 360 panorama, and targeted observations to better understand the landscape around us. On the mineralogy side, we will get a multispectral observation of the area shown in the image atop of this blog and towards the left of it. In addition, there are many atmospheric observations, with looking at the crater rim for opacity, doing a sky movie and watching out for dust devils; and the weather station is adding to these atmospheric observations, too. Inside the rover, CheMin is busy with housekeeping and data management, and DAN is getting data as well. Another busy day on Mars!