MSL Picture of the Day:T+59 Days: Where is Curiosity now?

MSL Picture of the Day:T+59 Days: Where is Curiosity now?

The team driving Curiosity over the Martian plain at the foot of Mount Sharp keeps a nice traverse map for us. Almost daily we are given a new map of the traverse with Curiosity’s position that day neatly pinned on that map.

By sol 56 Curiosity is at Rocknest. She will stay there for a few days testing her scoop and processing unit CHIMRA (at least until sol 61).

She is en route to Glenelg, a place where three kinds of terrain come together. She is going there because we want to know what makes up these three colour swatches in the Martian soil that we can see from space.

Lately Curiosity has been driving greater distances per day as the driving team gets more confidence. For the same reason the overal team of Curiosity of scientists and engineers will start weaning themselves (or Curiosity, that is a matter of perspective) off living on Mars time. Once the team is confident that they can fit writing the commands and doing the science into Earth time days, they will switch back to our normal 24 hour days. Right now they are living on 24 hours, 39 minutes and 35 second Mars days called sols.

That living on Mars days wreckes havock on your family and your wider social live seems obvious to me. However that may seem so as I have experienced living on Mars days in 2007, when I cycled with a team living on analogue Mars in the Arctic. And I only lived on Mars time for 37 days during the summer holidays, which definitely made it easier. Why? Well my kids were not in school it being the summer holidays, making firm schedules of rising, getting them off, and even feeding them less stressful as shifting daytimes is what teenagers do anyway. Knowing what I know from having experienced it, I wish the Curiosity team a speedy transition to Earth time.  That transition was originally  planned for about sol 90. I will let you know when and how it will have occured in about a month time. Meanwhile I will keep updating our website with the latest traverse map.

See below for some earlier traverse maps. The images used for the map is from an observation of the landing site by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) instrument on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

This map below shows the route driven by Curiosity through the sol 43 (Sept. 19, 2012).
The route starts where the rover touched down, a site subsequently named Bradbury Landing. The line extending toward the right (eastward) from Bradbury Landing is the rover’s path. Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up. The scale bar is 200 meters (656 feet).

By Sol 43, Curiosity had driven at total of about 950 feet (290 meters). The Glenelg area farther east is the mission’s first major science destination, selected as likely to offer a good target for Curiosity’s first analysis of powder collected by drilling into a rock.

This map below shows the route driven by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity through the sol 29 of the rover’s mission on Mars (Sept. 4, 2012).

The route starts where the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft placed the rover, a site subsequently named Bradbury Landing. The line extending toward the right (eastward) from Bradbury Landing is the rover’s path. Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol numbers of each drive. North is up. The scale bar is 200 meters (656 feet).

By Sol 29, Curiosity had driven at total of 358 feet (109 meters). At the location reached by the Sol 29 drive, the rover began several sols of arm characterization activities.

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