Mars Exploration Rovers Update - February 10, 2006

SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Reaches “Home Plate” - sol 743-749, Feb 10, 2006:

After several months of driving, Spirit finally reached the
geologic feature dubbed “Home Plate” in Gusev Crater. Spirit first got
good view of Home Plate in late August, after cresting “Husband Hill.”
After that, the rover made scientific observations near the summit
before commencing an ambitious drive of 848 meters (2,782 feet, a
more than half a mile) in 94 Martian days, or sols, to get to Home
Plate. Spirit is now studying a rock target called “Barnhill” just
the tabletop-like surface of Home Plate using instruments on the
robotic arm. Science team members have begun calling Home Plate the
“Burns Cliff of Gusev” because of its layered appearance and steep
slopes, which is reminiscent of, but smaller than, “Endurance Crater,”
explored by Spirit’s twin, Opportunity, on the opposite side of Mars in

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 743 (Feb. 4, 2006): Spirit performed untargeted remote sensing and
drove 45.7 meters (150 feet), navigating with the guidance of

Sol 744: Spirit completed an autonomous drive of 17.5 meters (57.4
feet), checked its orientation, and took post-drive images of
surrounding terrain.

Sol 745: Spirit completed light remote sensing and recharged the
for the coming week.

Sol 746: Spirit moved 9 meters (29.5 feet) closer to the target
nicknamed “Barnhill.” Following the approach, Spirit was perched at a
tilt of 27 degrees.

Sol 747: Spirit carefully unstowed the robotic arm, continuously
checking the rover’s own tilt, which changes when the arm is deployed.
Engineers expected a change in tilt of less 0.3 degrees; the actual
change was minus 0.048 degrees. Spirit then performed scientific
analysis as planned with the microscopic imager and Moessbauer

Sol 748: Spirit continued conducting scientific studies using the
Moessbauer instrument and began acquiring a large mosaic of images with
the panoramic camera.

Sol 749: The team proceeded with plans to have the rover change tools
the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, continue to acquire panoramic
images, and conduct other remote sensing.

As of sol 749 (Feb. 11, 2006), Spirit’s total odometry was 6,589 meters
(4.09 miles).

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Finishing Up at ‘Olympia’ - sol 723-728, Feb 10,

Opportunity is healthy. The rover is in the midst of a robotic-arm and
remote-sensing campaign on a feature informally named “Roosevelt.” Last
week Opportunity used its microscopic imager, Moessbauer spectrometer
alpha particle X-ray spectrometer to examine “Overgaard.”

The short-term goal is to finish studying the “Olympia” outcrop by mid
next week. The final feature that will be characterized in this
is called “Bellemont.”

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 723 (Feb. 4, 2006): Finished the microscopic-imager mosaic on

Sol 724: Stowed the robotic arm in the hover position. Attempted a
drive to Roosevelt, but the drive ended early due to suspension limits.

Sol 725: Succeeded in short drive to Roosevelt.

Sol 726: Used alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and Moessbauer
spectrometer on a target called “Rough Rider.”

Sol 727: Used the microscopic imager for an image mosaic of Roosevelt.

Sol 728: Continued using the Moessbauer spectrometer on Rough Rider.

Acquired high-resolution images of surrounding outcrops with the
panoramic camera.

Total odometry as of sol 728 (Feb. 9, 2006): 6,509.8 meters (4.045