Curiosity update: Getting ready to disappear behind the Sun

FLB_553208721EDR_F0642790FHAZ00302M_-br2Sol 1755, July 13, 2017, update by MSL scientist Roger Wiens: Planetary scientists take their vacations when the planets align. In our case it is because communications with Mars are blacked out when the red planet goes behind the sun. It is called a solar conjunction. Afterwards, Mars will re-appear in our terrestrial skies early in the morning, just before sunrise. As the Earth chases the Red Planet, Mars will rise earlier until at opposition, when the Earth passes Mars a little over a year from now, the Red Planet will be directly overhead at midnight, e.g., directly behind Earth, relative to the sun.

For the Curiosity rover team, we will cease operations this weekend. There is one more day, tomorrow, for some instruments, while others like arm instruments and ChemCam cut out early, as we want to verify it is sun safe (its focus stage parked at a safe position) before we leave the rover on its own. The team will check on the rover on August 4 and re-start full operations on August 7. In the meantime, Curiosity might just get lonely… [More at link]

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