Lost in Mars – or Utah!

Today saw out Sol 5 of the MURFI field trial.

But things didn’t go exactly to plan.

One of the major problems of driving a rover on Mars is navigating. Mars, unlike the Earth, doesn’t have a magnetic field, meaning that we can’t tell which way is north using a compass.

As such, there’s always an element of unpredictability in where the rover might end up.

At the end of each drive, we have to triangulate the location of the rover to see where we’ve actually ended up (see our earlier post on the details of going about this).

This morning, it turns out the rover was slightly to the west of where we thought it was. Not much, only by about 5 metres — but enough for us to check twice where we were going.

Fortunately, once we realised this, it was relatively easy correct for, and we were able to plot a new course for the rover.

We’re aiming to drive another 30 metres in a south-west direction. This should take us towards the material that we’re hoping to drill down into and look for traces of ancient life.

In the meantime, check out this incredible new panorama taken by the rover’s PanCam instrument of where we’re aiming for!

— Joel Davis, MURFI team

Rover panorama, looking south (we think) — Credit: MURFI team

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