Mars Exploration Rover Update - July 14, 2006

SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit to Get New Robotic Capabilities As Martian Winter
Turns to Spring - sol 897-904, July 14, 2006:

This week Spirit greeted the 900th day, or sol, of exploration on Mars.
Spirit is healthy and continues to make science observations despite
winter power limitations. One file of a new software upgrade remains to
be transmitted to the rover. Rover handlers plan to have Spirit start
using the new software sometime in mid-August. The upgrade will enable
the rover to process images more quickly and focus on a single target
more efficiently and, when solar power levels increase again,
demonstrate new robotic autonomous capabilities.

While studying images from the panoramic and hazard avoidance cameras
characterize dirt buildup on the rock abrasion tool, science and
engineering team members discovered a possible small clod of dirt
in the device. They are considering running the rock abrasion tool
backward in an attempt to dislodge it.

Solar array input was down to about 280 watt-hours per sol (a hundred
watt-hours is the amount of electricity needed to light one 100-watt
bulb for one hour).

Sol-by-sol summary:

Sol 897 (July 12, 2006): Spirit acquired panoramic camera images of a
rock believed to be a meteorite known as “Zhong Shan.”

Sol 898: Spirit acquired panoramic camera images of a dark rock known

Sol 899: Spirit acquired images with the panoramic camera for the
“McMurdo panorama.”

Sol 900: Plans called for Spirit to monitor atmospheric dust with the
panoramic camera.

Sol 901: Plans called for continued analysis of the soil target known
“Halley” with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

Sol 902: Spirit was scheduled to collect more images for the McMurdo

Sol 903: Plans called for Spirit to recharge the batteries.

Sols 904 (July 19, 2006): Plans called for reverse operation of the
abrasion tool to attempt to dislodge something that looks like a clod


As of sol 898 (July 13, 2006), Spirit’s total odometry was at 6,876.18
meters (4.27 miles).