Saturday 4th August
Lots of people turning up now at JPL: a mixture of familiar and new faces to me. There is also a collection of expat Brits working at JPL, we exchange news. It will be great to work with new people in the science teams. Some of the people go back to the Viking Lander mission (1976) days at JPL, they have seen an incredible increase in our knowledge of Mars over the last 36 years. The red planet image of Mars you often see dates from the Viking (there were 2 orbiters and 2 landers) mission.
I think our MSL work will gradually increase as more data is returned, we wont get a great deal in the first few days. More work for us to do in the instrument teams though. If you go to the Mars Science Laboratory jpl website you will find lots about the different instruments.
Plenty to arrange in the last few days before landing. I need to download a Mars local (ie Gale Crater) time app for one thing. However, the landing is not an end to the development of the mission. We will be able to make use of new software uploads after landing for instance, if we want. Lots of finer details starting to emerge in the discussions now e.g. what direction will the mast be pointing after landing? We have to be careful not to direct the ChemCam spectrometers on the mast towards the Sun. One of the first things to do is calibrate the stereo cameras and ChemCam Raman imager on the mast. In the image above you can see small discs at the back, of different colours and composition for this purpose. Chemcam/Raman imager is in the top right hand corner of the mast. We will get 3d views of the landscape with the 2 MastCam (square outline) lenses on the mast. MastCam operates a bit like a commercial digital camera - we wont have separare colour filter wheels as there are on the planned ExoMars camera.
The image is of the Curiosity model on display at JPL. I have a feeling I will be visting this model a lot during the early days to remind myself of exactly where all the different instruments are in relation to each other.