A spoonful of sand, a question over plastic and an unexpected finding

Not long after I Pressed my last MSL update, Curiosity went ahead and collected its first scoop of Martian sand.

The operation took place over the course of several hours on October 7th (Sol 61), gathered a scoopful of sand and powdery material from the sand ridge the rover had been examining at a location mission managers have dubbed “Rocknest”.

The operation was the first phase in a process which is designed to “clean” the Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) device mounted on the turret at the end of Curiosity’s robot arm (and which includes the scoop itself). The cleaning process is required to ensure that no contaminants from Earth remain in CHIMRA’s chambers so they do not adversely affect analysis when samples eventually reach the on-board SAM and CheMin instruments.

A Hazcam’s view: Curiosity scoops its first load of Martian surface material

The entire process was carefully monitored using several of Curiosity’s camera systems in order to confirm progress and to make sure everything was operating as expected. This made the gathering of the first scoop of material a protracted affair, with the Hazcams at the front of the rover being used to monitor progress from a low angle and both the Navcam and Mastcam systems imaging progress and results. Once the sample has been gathered, the turret was vibrated gently to level the material in the scoop and shake-off any excess.

A Mastcam image of the scoop filled with material and (arrowed) the FOD – Foreign Object Debris – which halted scoop operations. For scale purposes, the scoop is 7 cm (2.8 inches) long, and 4.5 cm (1.8 inches) wide

It was an image from the Mastcam which brought a halt to operations, when a small, bright object was spotted. Believing the object might be something from the rover, mission managers decided to suspend the scoop operations and use the Remote Micro-Imager of the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument to study the object in an attempt to ascertain what it might be.

Continue reading “A spoonful of sand, a question over plastic and an unexpected finding”

Viewer release summary 2012: week 41

This summary is published every Monday and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Viewer Round-up Page, a list of  all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware) and which are recognised as being in adherence with the TPV Policy
  • By its nature, this summary will always be in arrears
  • The Viewer Round-up Page is updated as soon as I’m aware of any releases / changes to viewers & clients, and should be referred to for more up-to-date information as the week progresses
  • The Viewer Round-up Page also includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.  

Updates for the week ending: 14 October, 2012

  • SL Viewer updates:
      • Beta version rolled to on October 8 – core updates: stabilisation / crash fix test version with tcmalloc removed(download pagerelease notes)
      • Development version rolled to on October 11
  • Dolphin rolled to on October 11 – core updates: Autoplay button and Network statistics bars hide properly in mouselook; A new setting in Preferences->Dolphin Viewer 3->UI that allows the user to disable the avatar name in the window title
  • Niran’s viewer rolled to 2.0.2107 on October 12 – core updates: fix for shadows incorrectly rendering at 140m+; fix for the scripting editor
  • Cool VL updates:
    • Stable branch rolled to on October 13 – core updates:Incorporation of Group Services code; removal of tcmalloc from Linux version; improved texture memory usage throttling algorithm; private memory pools now off by default; initial backport of Media on a Prim (currently disabled pending further work); new “Media Updates” fast timer implemented; backport of latest bugfixes from viewer-development and viewer-beta; minor code changes and optimizations
    • Experimental branch rolled to also on October 13 – core updates: removal of tcmalloc from both Linux and Windows versions; otherwise as for Stable branch
    • Release notes
  • Mobile Grid Client updated to version 1.19.1173 – support for Android v3 (Honeycomb) and v4 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
  • Group Tools release version on October 14. No details on updates or fixes
  • Libretto – removed from round-up page due to website being unavailable for a month and no response from creator on status (also removed from the SL Third-party Viewer Directory)

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