Mars Exploration Rover Update - June 21, 2006

SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Continues Work Even As Martian Winter Deepens -
sol 867-873, June 21, 2006:

Spirit continues to be productive, even as winter conditions harshen.
Spirit now receives about one-third as much solar energy as the rover
received in mid-2005 while on “Husband Hill.” That is, the rover now
receives about 310 watt-hours per Martian day, or sol, compared with
watt-hours per sol last summer. (A hundred watt-hours is the amount of
electricity needed to light one 100-watt bulb for one hour.) The power
supply limits how much work Spirit can do each sol. Even so, Spirit
acquired two more columns of the “McMurdo panorama” plus a mosaic of
microscopic images of a third layer of soil in a target known as
“Progress 3.” In addition, Spirit completed six targeted studies using
the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, all while the rover was
also communicating with the Odyssey spacecraft during its overhead

The rover team also planned to begin sending new flight software, known
as version R9.2, to Spirit. Two previous flight-software upgrades were
sent solely via Spirit’s high-gain, X-band antenna. The new uplink
however, calls for use of both X-band and UHF antennas because X-band
communications with Spirit are often unavailable due to use of that
frequency to support NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter during its
aerobraking around the planet.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 867 (June 11, 2006): Spirit acquired the first portion of column 20
(a one-by-two mosaic) of the McMurdo panorama.

Sol 868: Spirit completed a “photon transfer calibration” of the front
hazard-avoidance cameras. This procedure is designed to measure
electronic noise (unwanted signals) picked up by imaging sensors that
convert light into electrical current in the rover’s cameras.

Sol 869: Spirit acquired the second portion of column 20 (a
mosaic) of the McMurdo panorama. The rover made targeted observations
with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer on rock targets
nicknamed “Riquelme” and “Zucchelli” while communicating with the
Odyssey spacecraft as it passed overhead.

Sol 870: Spirit acquired microscopic images of the soil target known as
“Progress 3” and made remote observations of the sky and ground using
the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 871: Spirit acquired images of the rock abrasion tool and spent 60
minutes communicating with Odyssey while conducting remote observations
of rock targets nicknamed “Law-Ricovita,” “Tor,” “Scott Base,” and
“Arctowski” using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 872: Plans called for transmission of new flight software, version
R9.2, to Spirit.

Sol 873 (June 17, 2006): Plans called for Spirit to acquire
super-high-resolution images of a rock target known as “Korolev” using
the panoramic camera.


As of sol 869 (June 13, 2006), Spirit’s total odometry remained at
6,876.18 meters (4.27 miles).