Friday 17th August Sol 12
We have chosen our first long term direction for Curiosity – and it is going about 0.5 km towards the NE, to an important junction between 3 different rock types. The site has been named Glenelg. This rover target has been identified as part of the mapping work. It has been chosen because we hope to be able to work out the relative ages of the rock types – all part of piecing together the history of Gale Crater and the action of water, wind and impact at different times in its 4 billion year history. But before we start roving we expect to be getting more of our first data, we aim to get the first ChemCam laser analyses of the Gale rocks over the next 2 days. That makes it a bit like landing night all over again.
However, we have now been working for 13 sols on Mars. During landing we were able to track Curiosity’s progress partly through the direct UHF link and the data sent back via the Mars Odyssey Orbiter. However, we also had an accurate computer simulation on the video screens, giving the predicted timing and events within the EDL process. The image shows the simulation about 1 hour before landing when the spacecraft velocity had reached about 4 km per second.