Mars Exploration Rover Update - April 14, 2006

SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Finally Reaches a Potential Winter Haven - sol
803-811, Apr 14, 2006:

Spirit is basking in the sun, relatively speaking, on a 10.8-degree,
north-facing slope in Gusev Crater on Mars. After turning away from the
rover’s previous heading toward “McCool Hill” last week, Spirit started
driving toward a nearby area known as “Low Ridge Haven” and arrived
there over the weekend. Because rover drivers were able to get Spirit
a place where the solar panels tilt more steeply toward the sun, the
rover’s power output increased by 50 to 60 watt-hours per sol (a sol is
one day on Mars). That gives the rover enough energy for about one hour
of daytime remote science.

So far in this location, Spirit has collected a 360-degree panorama
the navigation camera, a smaller panorama with the panoramic camera,
targeted observations with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer,
and five targeted images with the panoramic camera. Spirit also
collected data with instruments on the robotic arm, including the
microscopic imager, the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, and the
Moessbauer spectrometer. All the rock and soil targets in this area are
being informally named after Antarctic research stations and explorers.

Sol-by-sol highlights:

Sol 803 (April 6, 2006): Spirit drove about 9 meters (30 feet) closer
“Low Ridge Haven,” approaching a break in the north-facing slopes of
small outcrop.

Sol 804: Spirit recharged the batteries and conducted atmospheric

Sol 805: Spirit spent as much of the weekend as possible driving toward
a north-facing slope to allow the rover’s solar panels to soak up more
energy from the sun. After advancing slightly more than 10 meters (33
feet), Spirit ended up in a nice, sunny spot, with a northerly tilt of
10.8 degrees.

Sol 806: Spirit recharged the batteries and used the panoramic camera
view the surrounding terrain from the new location reached by the sol
805 drive.

Sol 807: Spirit’s weekend drive placed the rover at a potentially safe
place to spend the winter on Mars. Activities included a “get fine
attitude,” a procedure completed every couple of weeks to correct any
error in the rover’s knowledge of its attitude relative to the sun.
(Between updates, the rover uses the onboard computer to keep track of
attitude changes, but error builds up in this measurement over time.)
The rover also used the navigation camera and panoramic camera for
additional and higher-resolution images of the terrain surrounding the
current location.

Sol 808: Spirit observed rock targets called “Marambio” and “Orcadas”
using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and collected images
of a target called “Maitri” using the panoramic camera.

Sol 809: Spirit deployed the robotic arm for the first time since the
week of sols 769 to 772 (March 2 to March 5, 2006), when the rover
conducted scientific observations near “Home Plate.” Spirit acquired
microscopic images of a target called “Halley” and completed an
overnight analysis with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. The
also acquired panoramic-camera images of “Troll” and “Mirny.”

Sols 810-811 (April 13-14, 2006): Plans for the weekend called for
continued work on “Halley,” including measurements with the Moessbauer
spectrometer, and targeted remote sensing, including panoramic camera
images of “Orcadas” and “Marambio.”


As of sol 811 (April 14, 2006), Spirit’s total odometry was 6,876.18
meters (4.27 miles).