Mars Exploration Rover Update - May 30, 2006

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Dug Into Loose Soil Again - sol 825-834, May 30, 2006:

Opportunity’s wheels dug into loose soil during a drive on sol 833 (May 29, 2006). The drive was planned for about 24 meters (79 feet) but resulted in only 1.5 meters (5 feet) of forward progress. The flight team directed Opportunity on sol 834 to take images for studying the situation and planning a way to drive out of the loose material. Preliminary assessment indicates the wheels are not buried as deeply as when Opportunity’s wheels become embedded in “Purgatory Dune” on sol 446. An escape drive may be attempted within a few days. The sol 833 drive was planned to stay in a trough between crests of ripples. Neither the trough nor the ripples were considered wheel-embedding hazards.

During the preceding eight sols, Opportunity executed both a robotic arm campaign and two more drives toward “Victoria Crater.” The rover used its microscopic imager, alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, and Moessbaeur spectrometer on the soil target “Alamogordo Creek.”

As Opportunity eases its way into the Martian winter season, rover planners have started to target energy-rich “lily pads” (regions with a northerly tilt) at the end of each drive. This way, planners can maximize the amount of sun on Opportunity’s solar arrays.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 825 (May 20): The rover used its microscopic imager and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, and did targeted remote sensing.

Sol 826: Opportunity conducted targeted remote sensing, used its microscopic imager and did a Moessbauer spectrometer integration.

Sol 827: Opportunity did targeted remote sensing and continued the Moessbauer integration.

Sol 828: The rover drove 39.07 meters (128 feet) and did untargeted remote sensing.

Sol 829: Opportunity conducted untargeted remote sensing.

Sol 830: The rover drove about 28 meters (92 feet) and conducted untargeted remote sensing.

Sols 831 and 832: Opportunity did untargeted remote sensing on both of these sols.

Sol 833: Opportunity’s wheels became partly buried in the loose soil during a drive that was intended to cover about 24 meters (79 feet).

Sol 834 (May 30): The plan for this sol included imaging to aid planning for a drive to get out of the loose material.

Odometry total as of Sol 828 (May 23): 7,940.57 meters (4.93 miles)