Mars Exploration Rover Update - June 15, 2006

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Opportunity Hits Five-Mile Mark - sol 844-851, June 15, 2006:

After the previous week’s successful extraction from “Jammerbugt,” Opportunity resumed its drive south. Approximately 95 meters (312 feet) was covered this week, and Opportunity reached the five-mile mark for total odometry! Next week the rover will be on restricted sols, meaning the end-of-sol data from the rover does not get to Earth until late in the day, so the team plans every other day without it. The plan will be for Opportunity to drive every other day. On the days off, the team will plan light remote sensing and downlink some of the unsent data that is building up in memory.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 844 (June 9, 2006): A 20-meter (66-foot) drive was planned for this sol. Planners intended for the drive to take Opportunity south, down the next trough over from the previous drive. The drive stopped after 4.8 meters (16 feet), when the first slip check detected 42 percent slip. Forty percent was the maximum allowed.

Sol 845: The rover conducted targeted remote sensing, including panoramic camera imaging of targets called “Jylland” and “Gorm,” and an observation of Gorm with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The team is informally naming targets in honor of Danish Constitution Day (June 5). Jylland is the main island of the Danish peninsula, and Gorm was the first king of Denmark.

Sol 846: After little progress in two adjacent troughs, Opportunity moved one more trough to the west. Slip checks were used to prevent driving with over 40 percent slip. The soil was relatively firm, and the rover made 9 meters (30 feet) of progress.

Sol 847: Opportunity conducted atmospheric science and took rear-looking images with its navigation camera.

Sol 848: The drive today took Opportunity down a trough. The team turned the rover around on a piece of outcrop so that it could drive backwards (to improve UHF data return). The drive proceeded down the trough and made 20.6 meters (68 feet) of progress. Before the drive, the panoramic camera took an image of a small crater, nicknamed “Sjaelland” for the biggest island of Denmark and the site of the capital.

Sol 849: Continuing south, Opportunity made 24 meters (79 feet) of progress. Slip checks were done approximately every 5 meters (16 feet) while on sand. The drive ended on a patch of outcrop

Sol 850: To start the day, Opportunity took a panoramic camera image of target “Steno” (informally named for Niels Steensen, or Nicholas Steno, a 17th century Danish anatomist and geologist). The drive was entirely over outcrop, and approximately 36 meters (118 feet) of progress was made. Opportunity performed one bonus slip check, on an area with a little more sand than the rest. As expected, very little slip was detected.

Sol 851 (June 16, 2006): Plans call for driving farther south.

Opportunity’s total odometry as of sol 850 (June 15, 2006) is 8,080.38 meters (5.02 miles).