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Happy Holidays to all.  

In this latest video from the scientists who are operating the Mar Science Lab mission, they too wish happy holidays to all and explain how they have programmed the robot science activities on Mars to continue even while most of the team takes time off for the holidays.

It also turns out that this mission preloading for a holiday break serves important mission needs by providing training and testing of mission protocols that will be required in April when Solar conjunction interferes with Earth-Mars communication and control, again leaving MSL on its own for days a time. It is important to demonstrate the capability of the mission to operate for Sol after Sol without Earth intervention. And April is a nice time of year for another break. Clever scientists.  

You can find a complete transcript out in the tall grass.

For all of my Mars diaries and all things Mars on Daily Kos go to Kossacks on Mars

Hi. I'm Colette Lohr, Tactical Uplink Lead on the Mars Science Laboratory Mission and this is your Curiosity Rover Report.

Recently the rover drove by an outcrop called Shaler, where we used  Curiosity's Chemistry and Camera, or  ChemCam instrument and  mast camera to look at the rocks' composition and observe its layering. Then from Shaler we drive another 15 meters or so and descended roughly half a meter to a location called Yellowknife Bay making science observations along the way.

The team is now searching in earnest for a suitable rock for our first drill activity after the holidays. This has been a really exciting time for the team because we've started to do what we call discovery driven planning. This is when we, in a sense, hand the rover keys over to the science team

In the early part of any mission, much of what the rover does is pre-scripted as we perform checkouts and do first time activities. But in recent Sols, or Martian days, the science team has really had more   freedom to send the rover where the science takes them.

These days, the team is busy preparing to preload the rover with 11 Sols of activity over the course of two Earth days. This is going to allow us to spend the holidays with our friends and families.,

This capability will come in handy when we experience Solar conjunction coming up in April. This is where the Sun positions itself between the Earth and Mars and it's going to interrupt our ability to communicate with Curiosity for upwards of two weeks.

Curiosity is expected to drive another 30 meters to a location the team has informally dubbed as Grandma's House. This is where she will spend the holidays acquiring a 360 degree panorama from within Yellowknife Bay. A small team will still be on  hand working during this period to monitor Curiosities health.

On behalf of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission we wish you all a very happy holiday and look forward to many new adventures with Curiosity in the New Year.

Thanks, NASA.

Originally posted to Kossacks on Mars on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 12:24 PM PST.

Also republished by Astro Kos and SciTech.

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