MURFI is on the move!

The first day of MURFI has come and gone, and we have successfully uploaded a packet of commands to the Rover in Utah. It’s been hectic, chaotic, stressful, and actually a whole lot of fun.

For the first day of the mission – “Sol 1” which is the name for a Mars day – we’ve asked the Rover to take some high-resolution images of the desert surface it is sitting on, as well as use its reflectance spectrometry instrument – the ISEM simulator – to analyse the surface composition.

We’re also going to collect some high resolution images of some of the more distant mesas and buttes (little hills!) that we might visit later in the mission. We want to study their geology from afar before committing to visiting them in person, so to speak! We have a limited amount of time for this mission, so we need to make good decisions about where to drive.

Some cone-shaped layered deposits in the background, and MURFI’s shadow in the foreground!

Finally, we commanded the Rover to turn around 180 degrees and to drive south by 10 metres. That will move us a little closer to those mesas and buttes, and puts us in a great position to take a full 360 degree Panorama so we can start the planning cycle again tomorrow.

Some examples of our planning work – different colours show  the targets we are hoping to cover with our different instruments.

Of course, the Rover won’t be doing all this on its own. Instead, our field team in Utah will be chivvying it along and making sure we don’t drive it anywhere dangerous.

We’ll be back in the Operations centre bright and early at 8am tomorrow ready to see the freshly downloaded data. Can’t wait!

Matt Balme. Mission Manager. Harwell Mission Operations Centre.


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