Mars Exploration Rover Update - December 5, 2006

SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Slowly Begins Driving Again - sol 1024-1038,
December 05, 2006:

Spirit is healthy and preparing to drive away from the rover’s winter
station after completing scientific investigation of a rock nicknamed
“King George Island.” The rock, according to principal investigator
Steve Squyres, contains some of the best-rounded grains ever seen in a
Martian rock. Scientists will try to determine how the grains formed –
perhaps with help from wind or water.

Spirit arrived at King George Island on Sol 1022 (Dec. 17, 2006) after
a short bump (very short drive) from a disturbed soil target nicknamed
“Bear Island.” Upon arrival, Spirit took a mosaic of microscopic images
of King George and collected data using the alpha-particle X-ray and
Moessbauer spectrometers. Spirit then brushed the target with the wire
bristles on the rock abrasion tool before collecting more
X-ray and Moessbauer data for comparison with data from the unbrushed

Spirit’s next planned target is a rock aptly nicknamed “Esperanza,” the
Spanish word for hope. The first of several drives to reach that goal
began on Sol 1037 (Dec. 3, 2006). On Sol 1030 (Nov. 25, 2006), the Mars
Reconnaissance Orbiter used its high-resolution camera to acquire
of Spirit’s “Winter Haven,” where the rover has spent its second
winter, and of Spirit’s lander, which arrived on Mars Jan. 4, 2004.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

In addition to Spirit’s daily science observations, which include
measuring atmospheric dust opacity with the panoramic camera, surveying
the sky and ground using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer,
and scanning the Martian sky for clouds using the navigation camera,
Mars rover did the following work:

Sol 1024 (Nov. 19, 2006): Spirit collected data about the Martian
atmosphere using the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer and monitored
dust accumulation on the panoramic camera mast.

Sol 1025: Spirit acquired super-resolution panoramic camera images of
the circular plateau-like feature known as “Home Plate” and measured
amount of light detectable at night and during Martian twilight.

Sol 1026: Spirit coordinated daily science observations with an
overflight of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The rover measured
surface reflectivity using the panoramic camera.

Sol 1027: Spirit acquired a mosaic of images of King George Island and
collected data from the same rock target using the alpha-particle X-ray

Sol 1028: Spirit studied King George Island using the Moessbauer

Sol 1029: Spirit studied Esperanza and two other rock targets known as
“Zhong Shan” and “Korolev” using the miniature thermal emission

Sol 1030: Spirit continued to assess King George Island using the
Moessbauer spectrometer and investigated a distant rock outcrop known
“Oberth” using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 1031: Spirit brushed the surface of King George Island using the
rock abrasion tool and acquired microscopic images and alpha-particle
X-ray data of the freshly brushed surface.

Sol 1032: Spirit acquired Moessbauer data from the brushed surface of
King George Island.

Sol 1033: Spirit acquired information about rock targets known as
“Syowa” and “Wiltgen” using the miniature thermal emission

Sol 1034: Spirit collected microscopic images of two soil targets known
as “Clarence” and “Deception” and recommenced analysis of the brushed
surface of King George Island using the Moessbauer spectrometer.

Sol 1035: Spirit analyzed a spot on the same rock surface but offset
from the target known as King George Island by acquiring microscopic
images and collecting corresponding compositional data with the alpha
particle X-ray spectrometer.

Sol 1036: Spirit acquired a 13-filter, full-color panorama of the soil
target known as “Tyrone” and again analyzed Korolev and Esperanza from
distance using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 1037: Spirit stowed the robotic arm carrying scientific instruments
and began driving toward Esperanza.

Sol 1038 (Dec. 4, 2006): Spirit tested new capabilities for automated
placement of the robotic arm.


As of sol 1036 (Dec. 2, 2006), Spirit’s total odometry was 6,877.63
meters (4.27 miles).