John Bridges: Mars Science Laboratory Blog
In addition to the blog, you can find some amazing videos and other content related to the mission, at:
The MSL science operations have stood down for a few days whilst a software upgrade goes ahead. Soon we will recommence the drilling campaign.
Meanwhile we have got back a stunning MAHLI selfie. You can see Mt. Sharp reflected in the ChemCam telescope.
Unlike Curiosity the Beagle2 lander never sent a signal back from Mars. However, as a result of some new HiRISE images we now know where it is and what happened. It landed in 2003, about 5 km from its target in Isidis Planitia but the solar panels didn't fully deploy. As the receiver was underneath the last solar panel (there are 4) Beagle couldn't communicate back to Earth. However, a lot of the engineering challenges were met in the Entry, Descent and Landing of Beagle after it was ejected from Mars Express.
These images show the unusual multicomponent, flat-lying shape, high reflectivity relative to the ground surface, and unusual colour compared to the oxidised martian rocks and dust. Michael Roon (ex. of Mars Express) spent many hours going through the full billion pixel images to lead us towards Beagle.
Meanwhile Curiosity is analysing MAHLI (day and night time) and ChemCam RMI images around the Mojave drill site to characterise the rocks that we are planning to drill after the first minidrill attempt.
We have started the drilling activities at Pahrump (Mojahave outcrop). This MAHLI image shows that the initial minidrill attempt turned up some unweathered fine grained sediment. The Minidrill is the first test attempt in any drilling sequence. The hole is a few cm across.
We are continuing the Pahrump localities looped drive. MSL is not working full time over the holidays but we had a '3-sol' plan on the 29th December. I was the Geo Science Theme Lead for the day. We aimed to follow up the dust removal team (DRT) on Santa ana outcrop with ChemCam analyses. Recently we have been taking numeous RMI images ('z-stacks) in order to succesfully pinpoint our focus and gain our analyses, as a diode on the focusing laser isnt working as planned.