MISSION UPDATES | August 15, 2017

Sol 1786: ChemCam anomaly

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

This image was taken by ChemCam: Remote Micro-Imager (CHEMCAM_RMI) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 1783.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL
MSL drove over 32 meters last weekend, to a sandy area with a few bedrock blocks, but ChemCam suffered an anomaly and was marked sick after the acquisition of the first RMI mosaic of Vera Rubin Ridge. The instrument is in a safe state and turned off, but no other ChemCam observations were successful last weekend. The instrument team will need at least one sol to recover, so no ChemCam activities will be planned today. The team concluded that it is not essential to acquire RMI data from the previous or current position, and agreed that we should stick with the touch-and-go that was strategically planned. So GEO selected "Emery Cove" as the target for a short APXS integration and 3 MAHLI images. After the arm is stowed, the Right Mastcam will take a picture of a rock named "Hupper" that appears to show cross-bedding and acquire two mosaics of "Shooting Rock" to test techniques for improving the image resolution while the RMI is unavailable. The two mosaics will be identical except for a small pointing offset between them, which should allow them to be combined into a "super-resolution" mosaic. Navcam will search for dust devils before the drive, which is planned to be about 28 meters long. In addition to the usual post-drive imaging, Navcam will take a couple half-frames of the top of Vera Rubin Ridge to enable accurate targeting in tomorrow's plan. Mastcam will measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere, and MARDI will take the standard twilight image before the rover recharges overnight. Once we decided how to react to the ChemCam anomaly this morning, planning went very smoothly, making for an easy day for me as SOWG Chair.