Overview of the Mars Science Laboratory mission: Bradbury Landing to Yellowknife Bay and beyond

Research areas:
Year:
2014
Authors:
  • A. R. Vasavada
  • J. P. Grotzinger
  • R. E. Arvidson
  • F. J. Calef
  • J. A. Crisp
  • S. Gupta
  • J. Hurowitz
  • Nicolas Mangold
  • S. Maurice
  • M. E. Schmidt
  • R. C. Wiens
  • R. M. E. Williams
  • R. A. Yingst
Journal:
JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-PLANETS
Volume:
119
Number:
6
Pages:
1134-1161
Month:
June
ISSN:
2169-9097
Abstract:
The Mars Science Laboratory mission reached Bradbury Landing in August 2012. In its first 500 sols, the rover Curiosity was commissioned and began its investigation of the habitability of past and present environments within Gale Crater. Curiosity traversed eastward toward Glenelg, investigating a boulder with a highly alkaline basaltic composition, encountering numerous exposures of outcropping pebble conglomerate, and sampling aeolian sediment at Rocknest and lacustrine mudstones at Yellowknife Bay. On sol 324, the mission turned its focus southwest, beginning a year-long journey to the lower reaches of Mt. Sharp, with brief stops at the Darwin and Cooperstown waypoints. The unprecedented complexity of the rover and payload systems posed challenges to science operations, as did a number of anomalies. Operational processes were revised to include additional opportunities for advance planning by the science and engineering teams.