Mars Exploration Rovers Update - January 12, 2007

http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/status.html

SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Continues to Test New Computer Smarts -
sol 1070-1070, January 12, 2007:

On the rover’s 1,068th sol, or Martian day of exploration on Mars (Jan.
4, 2007), Spirit used its new computer smarts to autonomously acquire
images of the terrain using the hazard avoidance camera, construct a
three-dimensional model of the terrain, identify rock or soil exposures
of interest, and generate plans for placing the Moessbauer spectrometer
and microscopic imager on 10 of those targets. Spirit’s twin, the
Opportunity rover on the other side of Mars, completed the same
exercise. The next step of the testing process for both rovers will be
to actually place scientific instruments on a target of interest.

Spirit spent much of the past week studying a layered rock exposure
known as “Montalva.” During the study, the rover used the brush on the
rock abrasion tool, the microscopic imager, the alpha-particle X-ray
spectrometer that collects information about elemental composition, and
the Moessbauer spectrometer that identifies iron-bearing minerals.

Plans called for Spirit to observe three transits of the Martian moon
Phobos as it passed between the rover and the sun on sols 1075 (Jan.
11,
2007), 1077 (Jan. 13, 2007), and 1078 (Jan. 14, 2007).

Sol-by-sol summary:

Sol 1070 (Jan. 6, 2006): Spirit unstowed the robotic arm and brushed
the
surface of Montalva, acquired a microscopic image of the rock, and
placed the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer on it for elemental
analysis. Before shutting down for the evening, Spirit measured
atmospheric dust using the panoramic camera.

Sol 1071: Spirit acquired a full-color image, using all 13 filters of
the panoramic camera, of a boulder nicknamed “Davis.” It also used the
navigation camera for images of scientific targets, and used the
miniature thermal emission spectrometer to measure atmospheric dust and
to surveyed the sky and ground, while communicating with the Odyssey
orbiter in the afternoon.

Sol 1072: Spirit scanned the foreground using the miniature thermal
emission spectrometer, acquired 4 hours worth of data using the
alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer, monitored atmospheric dust with the
panoramic camera, and took images of the sky for calibration purposes.

Sol 1073: Spirit swung the robotic arm out of view to collect
full-color, 13-filter images of Montalva with the panoramic camera and
acquired 4 hours of worth of data using the Moessbauer spectrometer.
The
rover scanned the sky and ground using the miniature thermal emission
spectrometer, monitored dust accumulation on the rover mast, measured
atmospheric dust, and imaged the sky for calibration purposes.

Sol 1074: Spirit used the navigation camera and the miniature thermal
emission spectrometer observe a nearby rock known as “Kohnen” and
another target known as “Amundsen.” Spirit fired up the Moessbauer
spectrometer for another 3 hours worth of analysis of Montalva. The
rover turned off the Moessbauer spectrometer and monitored atmospheric
dust.

Sol 1075: Spirit observed the morning transit of Phobos using the
miniature thermal emission spectrometer, fired up the Moessbauer for an
overnight observation, acquired thumbnail images of the sky using the
panoramic camera, and searched for dust devils by acquiring video
frames
using the navigation camera.

Sol 1076: Plans called for Spirit to use the Moessbauer spectrometer
for
another 3 hours of study of Montalva and to take images of the sky for
calibration purposes with the navigation and panoramic cameras. Spirit
was also to monitor atmospheric dust and pre-position the panoramic
camera to acquire images of the next day’s transit of Phobos.

Sol 1077: Plans called for Spirit to acquire images of the sky for
calibration purposes while communicating directly with Earth using the
high-gain antenna. Plans also called for Spirit to use the Moessbauer
for
12 hours of analysis of Montalva, heat up the electronics inside the
panoramic camera, and acquire images of the Phobos transit with the
panoramic camera.

Sol 1078 (Jan. 14, 2007): Plans called for Spirit to scan the sky for
clouds using the navigation camera, study a target known as
“Svarthammaren,” and survey the sky and ground during the Phobos
transit
at 1:45 p.m. local solar time using the miniature thermal emission
spectrometer. The rover was to survey targets known as “Sejong” and
“Amery” and search the sky for clouds again the following morning using
the navigation camera.

Odometry:

As of sol 1075 (Jan. 11, 2006), Spirit’s total odometry was 6,895
meters
(4.28 miles).


OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Opportunity Finds Another Meteorite - sol
1049-1056,
January 12, 2007:

After wrapping up scientific studies of a rock called “Santa Catarina”
on the rim of “Victoria Crater,” Opportunity determined, based on
analysis of the iron content, that the rock is probably a meteorite.
Nearby cobbles appear to have similar composition, based on data from
the Moessbauer spectrometer, panoramic camera, and miniature thermal
emission spectrometer. Opportunity’s itinerary will now take the rover
in a northeasterly direction toward the crater’s edge for a better look
at the west face of “Cape Desire,” on the other side of the “Bay of
Toil.”

On the morning of Opportunity’s 1,048th sol, or Martian day, the rover
entered auto mode, meaning that, in order to protect itself from a
sequencing error, the rover cancelled all scheduled activities. Rover
planners re-established control of all operating sequences on sol 1049
(Jan. 5, 2007).

Also on sol 1049, Opportunity performed additional diagnostic tests of
the grinding motor that operates the rock abrasion tool. All signs
point
to a failed encoder. Rover handlers must now invent a new strategy for
using the brush and grinder that does not rely on the encoder to sense
when the device comes into contact with a rock surface. Team members
anticipate they will be able to use the rock abrasion tool again in a
few weeks.

Sol-by-sol summary:

In addition to daily observations that included measuring atmospheric
dust with the panoramic camera, searching for clouds with the
navigation
camera, surveying the sky and ground with the miniature thermal
emission
spectrometer, and imaging the sky with the panoramic camera,
Opportunity
completed the following activities:

Sol 1049 (Jan. 5, 2007): Opportunity conducted diagnostic tests of the
rock abrasion tool, studied Santa Catarina using the Moessbauer
spectrometer, acquired full-color, 13-filter panoramic images of
cobbles
known as “Ibirama” and “Xaxim,” and studied a blue cobble known as
“Igreja” using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 1050: Opportunity acquired full-color panoramic camera images of
cobbles known as “Lajes” and “Pelotas,” studied Lajes with the
miniature
thermal emission spectrometer, took images of Lajes with the navigation
camera, and analyzed Santa Catarina with the Moessbauer spectrometer.

Sol 1051: Opportunity acquired panoramic camera images of the area
where
the rover is scheduled to drive, acquired data from a cobble known as
“Mafra” using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and
collected
additional data about Santa Catarina with the Moessbauer spectrometer.

Sol 1052: Using all 13 filters of the panoramic camera, Opportunity
acquired images of Mafra and a cobble nicknamed “Peixe,” scanned the
sky
and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and
continued to analyze Santa Catarina using the Moessbauer spectrometer.

Sol 1053: Opportunity acquired full-color images using all 13 filters
of
the panoramic camera of cobbles known as “Videira” and “Chapeco,”
scanned Videira and the background behind it using the miniature
thermal
emission spectrometer, and conducted analysis of Santa Catarina using
the Moessbauer spectrometer.

Sol 1054: Opportunity monitored dust accumulation on the rover’s mast,
surveyed the sky with the sun low on the horizon using the panoramic
camera, and surveyed the sky and ground with the miniature thermal
emission spectrometer.

Sol 1055: Plans called for Opportunity to back up and acquire panoramic
camera images of Santa Catarina along with Moessbauer spectrometer
data,
turn northeast and drive toward Bay of Toil, take stereo images using
the navigation camera, and acquire panoramic mosaics using the
panoramic
camera for help in planning the next drive to the edge of Victoria
Crater.

Sol 1056 (Jan. 12, 2007): Opportunity was scheduled to conduct a sky
survey using the panoramic camera.

Odometry:

As of sol 1053 (Jan. 9, 2007), Opportunity’s total odometry remained at
9,790 meters (6.1 miles).