MISSION UPDATES | October 10, 2022

Sols 3616-3620: It's SAM Time!

Written by Keri Bean, Rover Planner Deputy Team Lead at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
This image was taken by Right Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3618.

This image was taken by Right Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3618. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Curiosity spent the weekend (sols 3616-3618) running a second night of CheMin analysis on the Canaima drilled sample and preparing SAM to accept a sample for analysis. The rover also continued to collect remote sensing and environmental science observations, including ChemCam and Mastcam observations of “Baracara Falls” and “Gabro Caracarai,”as well as a ChemCam RMI mosaic pointed towards Bolivar.

Today we planned sols 3619 and 3620. The main star of the show was a sample delivery to SAM! A SAM analysis activity takes a lot of power to run, so it took a lot of negotiating and moving around activities to fit in as much science as we possibly can. Curiosity will also enjoy a few good naps in the plan to recharge the batteries.

We start sol 3619 off with a block of science imaging activities and a CheMin data retrieval. The imaging block starts off with some Mastcam and Navcam atmospheric observations to monitor the ongoing dust storm. After that, we use ChemCam’s laser to analyze “Alcalina Apiau” and take a Mastcam image to document the ChemCam observation, followed by a Mastcam image of our drill target Canaima to monitor how the winds may have affected the drill tailings. Once all those science observations wrap up, the rover naps most of the afternoon to recharge the battery and to await calmer winds to drop off some of the Canaima drilled sample using our robotic arm. Today I was RP2 which is the role responsible for the final verification and validation of the arm commands before sending them to the rover. I had a trainee today that handled all of the work like a pro! Overnight we perform a SAM analysis on the delivered sample.

In the very early morning of sol 3620, as the SAM analysis wraps up, we have some communication passes scheduled. During that time, we’ll also take some DAN data and retrieve the SAM data from the instrument to send back to Earth for the very eager scientists to take a look at! Once those passes end, the rover will sleep until much later in the morning. Once the rover wakes back up again, we’ll take another round of DAN data along with a set of atmospheric observations with Mastcam and Navcam, then use the ChemCam laser to analyze “Huruwassaru Creek” and then use ChemCam’s camera to image the marker band in the distance. Once ChemCam is done, Mastcam will take a picture of the Huruwassaru Creek just freshly zapped by ChemCam. The rover will then sleep the rest of the sol to recharge the battery for the next plan. Throughout the plan we also include our RAD and REMS observations to monitor the local environment.