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SAM science team members who were still at Cape Canaveral joined others by telecon for the first team meeting with Curiosity in space on its way to Mars. We heard updates both on SAM related laboratory studies and on the plans for continuing the analysis of the extensive SAM calibration data set that we obtained prior to and after delivery of the SAM to the Curiosity rover. The SAM software team has been working hard on improving the power of their data analysis tools and they demonstrated these for the scientists. Several participating scientists had been selected a few days earlier to bring their particular expertise to the Curiosity investigation and two of these individuals joined the SAM team meeting. Pan Conrad who is the SAM Investigation Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is organizing our team to be ready for surface operations and she reminded us that we MUST get properly trained to put SAM to work on Mars. The anticipation and excitement will grow as we get closer to landing, but in the meantime the team has lots of work to do to get ready to explore. Paul Mahaffy from Florida two days after the launch.

Author: Paul Mahaffy

SAM and MSL are on their way to Mars. Just after 10 am on the last Saturday in November of 2011 an Atlas V rocket lifted MSL with its ten instruments including SAM into space. With thousands of people watching both in person and on television the rocket took off and within an hour the spaceship was on its way to Mars. For the SAM team this was a great milestone in a long journey that began in earnest in December 2004 when NASA selected the proposal for this investigation for inclusion on this mission. The SAM science team's work to craft an investigation that would address fundamental questions of past and present habitability on our next door neighbor planet Mars had been accepted by NASA and the challenging work of turning these ideas into reality began in earnest at that time. After years of design, analysis, fabrication, integration, software development, and testing followed by even more testing the SAM team delivered the instrument suite to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena to be integrated into the rover in December 2011. SAM is now on its way and within a few days of landing on August 6, 2012 we hope to have our first measurements results sent back to Earth from Mars.

Author: Paul Mahaffy

Preparations for launch continue. Excitement is high as the whole science team gathered this morning for a briefing prior to the launch of Curiosity, which is expected for this Saturday. When I was about 9 years old, I would play endlessly with my Marx Atomic Cape Canaveral Missile Base, with its plastic rubber-tipped rockets, and let me tell you— being here at the REAL space center is simply incredible. It is amazing to be here after working so hard for so many years, and now we can hardly wait to be on the martian soil exploring Gale Crater. Tomorrow, we will have another science meeting and continue to work on plans for operating SAM and all of the other instruments on Curiosity for exploring Mars. More tomorrow!

Warm regards,
Pan Conrad, from Cape Canaveral
Author: Pan Conrad