MISSION UPDATES | October 31, 2023

Sols 3994-3995: "Bewitched Battery"

Written by Natalie Moore, Mission Operations Specialist at Malin Space Science Systems
This image was taken by Right Navigation Camera onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 3990.

Right Navcam image of the closed SAM inlet covers from Sol 3990. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Earth planning date: Monday, October 30, 2023

Mondays are scary enough, so the team was extra spooked when the morning's downlink showed our incoming power state as lower than what we planned. Ghosts of Mars? (A movie I recommend, by the way) Maybe… but if our rover was in a scary movie she’d be the last one standing. And so our team began a willowy plan this Hallows' Eve to continue on our Drill Sol path and recharge our batteries before any other unearthly forces could strike again.

We’re starting this plan with another Mastcam Left filter wheel recovery attempt, this time trying to drive the motor in the opposite direction as Friday. The curse on our filter wheel motor has persisted for over a month but we still have some tricks and treats up our sleeves. Then, like the monster under your bed, our rover will sleep all day and wake up at night to begin preparing for the power-hungry SAM analysis of the Sequoia drill sample later this plan. Preparation includes a SAM "column clean" to burn up any contaminants, and another long nap most of the next sol. On the second sol, the arm will drop off the Sequoia sample to SAM in the afternoon and begin the SAM GCMS (Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer, used to detect C-bearing molecules) around midnight. We’re not including any remote science activities this plan for power purposes, but the team is well prepared for Wednesday and Friday when more resources may be available. Stay alive, friends, and don’t take candy from haunted houses!