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Mars Exploration Rovers Update - January 27, 2007

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update - January 27, 2007
« il: Mar 30/01/2007, 09:22 »
http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/status.html

SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Studies Layered Rocks and Wind-Blown Drifts -  sol 1085-1090, January 27, 2007:

With the rover's third Martian spring just around the corner, Spirit  is healthy and has started acquiring movies with the navigation camera in search of dust devils wheeling across the terrain. Spring officially begins on Martian day, or sol 1103 (Feb. 8, 2007).

During the past week, Spirit acquired microscopic images of a soil target called "Londonderry," which is an active wind drift shaped by  the motion of bouncing sand grains. Spirit also acquired super-resolution panoramic camera images of an exposure of layered bedrock with rounded rock fragments known as "Zucchelli." Scientists hope the images will reveal information about color, structure, grain size, and  mineralogical composition of the rock.

Spirit continued to make progress on scientific studies of a rock exposure known as "Montalva" on the lower stratigraphic unit of an outcrop known as "Troll." On the rover's 1,085th sol (Jan. 21, 2007)  of exploration, Spirit used the wire brush on the rock abrasion tool to reveal more surface area and enable clean measurements with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Spirit then backed up to conduct analysis of the newly brushed area.

In the coming week, scientists plan to have Spirit retrace its tracks toward a soil exposure known as "Tyrone" for additional panoramic  camera images and miniature thermal emission spectrometer measurements to be taken from a distance of about 10 meters (30 feet).

Sol-by-sol summary:

In addition to daily observations that included measuring atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera and surveying the sky and ground with  the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, Spirit completed the  following activities:

Sol 1085 (Jan. 21, 2006): Spirit acquired stereo microscopic images of Londonderry, as well as a target known as "Contact" and used the wire brush on the rock abrasion tool to brush the surface of Montalva.  Spirit acquired panoramic camera images of layered rock targets known as "Los Estados," "Wollaston," and "Monte Dinero."

Sol 1086: Spirit acquired miniature thermal emission spectrometer data on rock targets called "Svea" and "Maudhem." Spirit acquired  navigation camera movies in search of dust devils and acquired panoramic camera images of the Martian horizon and sky.

Sol 1087: Spirit stowed the robotic arm and backed up before taking navigation camera images in support of observations to be made with  the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Spirit acquired navigation camera images after backing up and acquired panoramic camera images of the drive direction.

Sol 1088: Spirit acquired panoramic camera images of the rock target  now called "Montalva Daisy," in honor of the daisy-like arrangement of circular brushed areas on the rock's surface. The rover acquired data  on Montalva Daisy and the background area around the target using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The rover surveyed the sky  for calibration purposes using the panoramic camera.

Sol 1089: Plans called for Spirit to acquire long-baseline stereo images, using the panoramic camera, of the circular, plateau-like feature known as "Home Plate" in preparation for going back there  after having survived the Martian winter. To do this, the rover moves laterally from one point to another between taking images with the  left and right eyes of the camera. Plans also called for the rover to take super-resolution panoramic camera images, as well as navigation camera images of the rock target "Zucchelli," and to acquire data on Montalva using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The rover was also  to acquire post-drive images of the terrain using the navigation camera  and take thumbnail images of the sky using the panoramic camera.

Sol 1090 (Jan. 20, 2007): Plans called for Spirit to use the  navigation camera to watch for dust devils and take images in support of investigations with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The rover was also slated to collect data with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and complete a survey of rock clasts using the panoramic camera.

Odometry:

As of sol 1087 (Jan. 23, 2006), Spirit's total odometry was 6,896  meters (4.28 miles).

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OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Opportunity Hones Reckoning Skills, Tests Computer Smarts - sol 1063-1069, January 27, 2007:

After driving around the "Bay of Toil" onto "Cape Desire," a  promontory overlooking "Victoria Crater," Opportunity began testing various techniques for visually determining the rover's precise location after moving across sandy, somewhat slippery terrain. Because the sandy surface is largely flat and featureless (except for the dropoff into "Victoria Crater"), the rover's primary reference points are the long rows of repeating ridges and holes in its own tracks. They all look pretty much the same, repeating the same pattern every 80 centimeters (2.6 feet). The rover is working on ways to make its tracks look different at every step, which will remove any ambiguities in the  images of the tracks.

Opportunity continued to test new computer smarts to enable automated placement of instruments on a target of scientific interest.

Sol-by-sol summary:

In addition to daily observations that included measuring atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera, searching for clouds with the  navigation camera, surveying the sky and ground with the miniature thermal  emission spectrometer, and imaging the sky with the panoramic camera,  Opportunity completed the following activities:

Sol 1063 (Jan. 19, 2007): Opportunity measured atmospheric argon with the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer and acquired part of a panoramic postcard of Victoria Crater using the panoramic camera. Opportunity surveyed rock targets known as "Gomes," "Gomes Background" (the  surface area around Gomes), "Santandres," "Deseado," "Narrows," "Sardines,"  and "Trabajo" using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 1064: Opportunity drove 4.21 meters (13.8 feet) around the Bay of Toil toward Cape Desire. The drive included a test to allow the rover  to make unique track patterns for better determination of its position.  The drive test had two legs: one in which the rover dragged the right  front wheel for 5 centimeters (2 inches) and then drove on all 6 wheels for  55 centimeters (1.8 feet), and a second in which the rover drove 60 centimeters (24 inches) and then spun both front wheels 23 degrees, or approximately 5 centimeters (2 inches).

Sol 1065: Opportunity acquired a full-color image using all 13 filters of the panoramic camera of the foreground area, then surveyed the foreground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The rover monitored dust on the mast and acquired panoramic camera images of the sky at sunset.

Sol 1066: Opportunity drove 25.38 meters (83.27 feet) away from the  rim of Victoria Crater to continue testing and determining the best method for visual odometry -- determining the precise position by imaging the rover's tracks. The rover did a series of 5 tests, each covering 5 centimeters (2 inches) and each designed to produce a different  pattern in the tracks. All of the driving was backward. During the first test, the rover created scuffs with both front wheels. During the second  test, the rover wiggled the left wheel and scuffed with the right wheel. The third test was a "drunken sailor" test in which the rover drove in  small curves. During the fourth test, the rover turned in place 10 degrees  at specific intervals, or "steps." The fifth test was a combination of  the previous four tests.

Sol 1067: Opportunity drove 40.43 meters (132.6 feet) to set up for  the approach to the edge of Cape Desire. The rover acquired panoramic  camera images of "Guam," a chevron-shaped rock outcrop.

Sol 1068: Opportunity drove backward 7.8 meters (26 feet) toward the  tip of Cape Desire.

Sol 1069 (Jan. 26, 2007): Plans called for Opportunity to drive a  short distance of 7 meters (23 feet) to an imaging position about 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) away from the left edge of Cape Desire. From this vantage point, Opportunity was to acquire images of "Bahia Blanca," the next  bay to the north. The rover was also slated to survey the horizon with the panoramic camera and complete Step 4 of the automatic placement test, the first attempt at actually reaching and touching a target autonomously. During the test, the rover was to acquire images with  the hazard avoidance camera, swing back the robotic arm, touch the target with the Moessbauer spectrometer, and acquire microscopic images.

Odometry:

As of sol 1068 (Jan. 25, 2007), Opportunity's total odometry was 9,918 meters (6.2 miles).
Marco Zambianchi
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