SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit’s Solar Power Levels Continue to Rise - sol 1226-1233, June 27, 2007:
Spring cleaning continued on NASA’s Spirit rover, as atmospheric turbulence on Mars cleared away more dust from the solar panels on the rover’s 1,233rd sol, or Martian day, of exploration (June 22, 2007). As a result of this most recent dust-clearing event, Spirit out-produced the electrical energy of Spirit’s twin, the Opportunity rover on the opposite side of Mars, by about 50 watt-hours. (That’s the amount of electricity needed to burn a 50-watt light bulb for one hour.) Tau measurements estimating the amount of dust in the atmosphere rose from 0.69 to 0.75. (Perfectly clean solar arrays would have a dust factor of 1.0, so the larger the dust factor, the cleaner the arrays.) Electrical energy rose to 738 watt-hours.
In addition, Spirit investigated an unbrushed rock outcrop known as “Nancy Warren,” a candidate high-silica target. On sols 1226, 1227, and 1228 (June 15-17, 2007), the rover worked on a second investigation intended to study the brushed surface of the rock. Because the rover did not complete the brushing operation, Spirit ended up taking a second set of measurements that was identical to the first.
On the rover’s 1,232nd sol of exploration (June 21, 2007), Spirit attempted to scuff a rock target known as “Virginia Bell” but didn’t quite reach it and ended up scuffing a soil exposure about 15 centimeters (6 inches) away, creating a new target that scientists dubbed “Innocent Bystander.”
In addition to daily observations of atmospheric dust levels using the panoramic camera, surveys of the sky and ground using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and communication activities including morning direct-from-Earth uplinks via the rover’s high-gain antenna and evening downlinks at UHF frequencies via the Mars Odyssey orbiter, Spirit completed the following activities:
Sol 1226: Spirit placed the rock abrasion tool on Nancy Warren, placed the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer on the target, collected data with the instrument, and completed an overnight transmission of data to the Odyssey orbiter.
Sol 1227: Spirit acquired a mosaic of microscopic images of Nancy Warren, placed the Moessbauer spectrometer on the target, and acquired data with the instrument. The rover acquired images of the spacecraft deck with the navigation camera. Spirit conducted reconnaissance and surveyed targets known as “Patricia Courtney,” “Lenora Mandella,” “Barbara Rotvig,” and “Pauline Crawley” with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The rover scanned for clouds using the navigation camera and monitored dust on the rover mast.
Sol 1228: Spirit continued to study Nancy Warren using the Moessbauer spectrometer. The rover acquired a full-color panorama of light- colored wheel tracks using all 13 filters of the panoramic camera. Spirit conducted reconnaissance and surveyed the tracks as well as targets known as “Shirley Crites,” “Betty McKenna,” and “Naomi Meier” using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The rover completed an overnight transmission of data to the Odyssey orbiter and acquired an eastward-looking mosaic of images using the navigation camera.
Sol 1229: Spirit continued analysis of Nancy Warren using the Moessbauer spectrometer. The rover acquired images of the spacecraft deck with the panoramic camera to document the previous week’s dust-cleaning event that occurred on sol 1224 (June 13, 2007). Spirit acquired movie frames with the navigation camera in search of dust devils.
Sol 1230: Spirit acquired microscopic images of the solar arrays, the dust capture magnet, and the filter magnet, along with panoramic camera images of the solar arrays, to document the dust-cleaning event of sol 1224 (June 13, 2007). The rover acquired microscopic images of undisturbed soil near the silica-rich outcrop known as Nancy Warren along with data using the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer. Members of the science team hope to use the data to characterize local soil that might be contaminating the outcrop.
Sol 1231: Spirit resumed measurements of Nancy Warren using the Moessbauer spectrometer. The rover surveyed targets on Nancy Warren known as “Gertrude Weise,” “Naomi Meier,” “Rykors,” “Silian,” “Sith,” “Skeel,” “Sompus,” and “Betty Jane Comet” using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.
Sol 1232: Spirit acquired microscopic images of a target called “Darlene Mickelson” and attempted to crush the outcrop in the vicinity of Virginia Bell by driving over it to expose more silica-rich outcrop material. The rover acquired post-drive images of the target area using the navigation camera.
Sol 1233: Spirit acquired movie frames in search of morning dust devils using the navigation camera and surveyed the post-crush target area using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.
As of sol 1232 (June 21, 2007), Spirit’s total odometry was 7,143.87 meters (4.44 miles).