“As reported previously, we’ve been working on calibrating the flight spare model, and that work is almost complete. Calibrating and characterising the instrument before flight allows scientists and engineers to understand how the cameras and electronics behave under a variety of conditions (for example, different temperatures or lighting angles).
By knowing how the camera behaves on Earth gives us insight into how it will behave on Mars. This is important for getting the best scientific use. Is that red dirt really red? Is that rock really a clay, and if so can we figure out which minerals are in it?
Our other engineering work is important, but less exciting — making sure that ESA have all the documents required to show PanCam was built as planned and working as expected.
The science team has been looking at the best ways to map the site on Mars where we’ll be landing. They are also beginning to think more about the science we can do, including geology, astrobiology (what do we look for that would give clues to past or present life), the atmosphere (we can look up as well as down! :-)).
We are also thinking about observations of the rover itself (is it OK after landing?) and the surface platform, the part of the spacecraft on which we’ll land.”