Mars Exploration Rovers Update - March 11, 2006


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

SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Studies Surface and Atmosphere on Way to ‘McCool’

  • sol 771-777, Mar 11, 2006:

Since backing down from the top of “Home Plate” on Martian day, or sol,
764 (Feb. 25, 2006), Spirit has driven southeast 103 meters (338 feet)
toward “McCool Hill.” Along the way, the rover used its robotic arm to
analyze a rock target dubbed “Fuzzy Smith” and conducted remote
scientific studies of outcrops along the side of Home Plate and on
“Mitcheltree Ridge.” Scientists plan to acquire long-baseline stereo
images of McCool Hill before driving too close to the hillside. The
images will provide measurements of surface features necessary for
planning the rover’s path.

During the week, NASA’s Odyssey spacecraft has been relaying commands
from Earth to Spirit via the UHF link. Communications over X-band
frequencies have been allocated for use by the Deep Space Network to
track the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter during its approach to the red
planet. Next week, Spirit is expected to resume operations via X-band
uplinks.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 771 (March 4, 2006): Spirit completed an analysis of targets dubbed
“Rube Foster” and “Willie Wells” using the Moessbauer spectrometer and
13
filters on the panoramic camera. During the afternoon Odyssey pass,
Spirit collected data with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.
Spirit then began a study of a rock target called Fuzzy Smith with the
Moessbauer spectrometer.

Sol 772: Spirit stowed the robotic arm and took panoramic camera images
of Fuzzy Smith, then drove 27 meters (89 feet) southeast across Home
Plate. After the drive, Spirit conducted opacity observations of
afternoon dust and measurements of the sky and ground using the
miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 773: After waking, Spirit continued atmospheric studies by taking
thumbnail images of the sky with the panoramic camera and images of
both
the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. In
the afternoon, Spirit acquired images with both the panoramic and
navigation cameras to provide essential data for selecting targets and
planning routes. The rover also completed a systematic ground survey
and
survey of rock clasts using the panoramic camera.

Sol 774: Spirit drove off of Home Plate and back into the “Dugout” - a
gulley near the southeast edge of Home Plate. The rover acquired
mid-drive images and post-drive images of surrounding terrain, then
completed opacity observations and measurements of the sky and ground
with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 775: In the morning, Spirit took thumbnail images of the sky with
the panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer
measurements of the sky and ground. With the robotic arm still stowed,
Spirit spent 30 minutes collecting temperature data using the alpha
particle X-ray spectrometer. In the afternoon, Spirit conducted
reconnaissance with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 776: Plans for this sol call for Spirit to begin collecting a
long-baseline stereo mosaic of images of the hill by taking panoramic
camera images from one site, driving 8 meters (26 feet), and then
acquiring the part of the second half of the stereo mosaic.

Sol 777 (March 11, 2006): Plans for this sol include morning
atmospheric
studies, finishing the long-baseline stereo mosaic, and taking pictures
of a target called “Bitty Cloud.”

As of sol 775 (March 9, 2006), Spirit’s total odometry was 6,756 meters
(4.2 miles).


OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Hawkeyeing from the ‘Half Pipes’ - sol 751-756,
Mar 11, 2006:

Opportunity is healthy and making its way south along the “Payson”
outcrop of “Erebus Crater.” The traverse paths are known within the
team
as “half-pipes,” after the popular Olympic event. Last week Opportunity
drove along one half-pipe, collecting high-resolution panoramic camera
images of the outcrop. (The team calls this “scoot and shoot”). The
rover has now left this path, and the team has planned a drive to the
next half-pipe. Depending on traversability, Opportunity will either
continue its scoot-and-shoot outcrop imaging campaign over the weekend,
or start down the road to “Victoria Crater.”

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 751 (March 5, 2006): Opportunity drove a short bump, took mid-drive
panoramic camera images of the outcrop, then drove about 8 meters
(about
26 feet) along the “half-pipe.”

Sol 752: The rover did untargeted remote sensing this sol, including
atmospheric science and systematic foreground studies with the
navigation camera and the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.
Systematic foreground studies means gathering a set of consistent
observations of different objects right in front of the rover.

Sol 753: Opportunity took pre-drive panoramic camera images of a
cobble,
drove 4 meters (13 feet), imaged the outcrop, then drove about 11
meters
(36 feet) out of the first half-pipe towards the next one. It also
acquired post-drive imaging.

Sol 754: Opportunity conducted systematic foreground studies with the
panoramic camera and the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The
rover also did some atmospheric science.

Sol 755: Opportunity drove about 19 meters (about 62 feet) to the edge
of the half-pipe and acquired post-drive imaging to determine
traversability.

Sol 756 (March 10, 2006): The plan for the sol is to conduct
atmospheric
science, including an attempt to observe clouds.

Total odometry as of sol 753 (March 7, 2006): 6645.57 meters (4.13
miles)