Mars Exploration Rover Update - March 27, 2006

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Continuing the Move Away from ‘Erebus’ -
sol 762-770, Mar 27, 2006:

Opportunity is healthy and making progress away from “Erebus Crater.”
This week the rover drove nearly 180 meters (591 feet).

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 762 (March 16, 2006): Opportunity started the sol in front of a
long, flat trough and was able to drive just over 53 meters (174 feet)
along this path.

Sol 763: The rover conducted atmospheric science and cloud

Sol 764: Opportunity conducted targeted remote sensing, including
panoramic camera images of “Red River Station” and “Kingfisher.” It
examined “Rush Springs” and “Red River Station” with the miniature
thermal emission spectrometer. It also filmed three cloud movies at
various times of day and did some other atmospheric science.

Sol 765: The rover drove 48.5 meters (159 feet), first over a small
ripple, then down a trough to a patch of outcrop.

Sol 766: The rover drove 34.6 meters (114 feet), first down a trough,
then crossing a few small ripples.

Sol 767: Opportunity drove approximately 44 meters (144 feet) over a
small ripples. Since there was no outcrop along the day’s drive path,
the team used more frequent slip checks. Before the drive, Opportunity
acquired panoramic camera images of some nearby outcrop.

Sol 768: The Odyssey orbiter went into safe mode before Opportunity’s
afternoon UHF relay pass, so the team didn’t have any information on
the rover performed on sol 767. For sol 768 the team planned a
direct-to-Earth communication session. Mars is getting farther from
Earth, and even with a Deep Space Network dish antenna 34 meters (112
feet) in diameter, the slow downlink rate yielded only 6 megabits of
data. However, this was enough to indicate that the planned activities
on sol 767, including the drive, had been completed successfully.

Sol 769: Odyssey was still recovering from safe mode. Since the UHF
downlink capability was unavailable, the planned activities for
Opportunity for the day were only to collect two tau readings. (Tau is
measure of atmospheric opacity. Determining it requires very little
volume.) The rover did not use the deep-sleep mode.

Sol 770 (March 24, 2006): The sol’s activities were planned knowing
the day could be the earliest that the rovers might regain
communication-relay support from Odyssey. The team is planned several
tau observations and a scan of sky and ground by the miniature thermal
emission spectrometer. Opportunity did use the deep sleep mode.

Total odometry as of sol 768 (March 22, 2006): 6,908 meters (4.29 miles)