NASA Mars Rover Opportunity Update: August 21-28, 2014

Status Report From: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Posted: Tuesday, September 2, 2014

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE:  Flash-Memory Reformat Planned - sols 3759-3766, August 21, 2014-August 28, 2014:

Opportunity is on the west rim of Endeavour Crater heading toward 'Marathon Valley', a putative location for abundant clay minerals. However, flash-memory induced resets have increased in occurrence, preventing meaningful science until this problem can be corrected. The project is developing plans to reformat the flash file system to correct the problem.

A flash-memory reformat was done successfully five years ago on Spirit, but this will be the first time on Opportunity. The project is preparing the rover for the reformatting. With no master sequence running, the flash memory is being systematically emptied of science data products. On Sol 3762 (Aug. 24, 2014), the project activated a new communication table on the rover, insuring predictable communication for the next several weeks. Due to the complexity of the frequent resets hitting during high-gain antenna passes causing subsequent X-band faults, the team sent a real-time command of a special sequence that converts the next several X-band passes to use the low-gain antenna. This was completed on Sol 3766 (Aug. 26, 2014).

The next step in the plan is to boot the rover into a mode that does not use the flash file system. This will allow confirmation of the health of the rover independent of the flash file system. Also, the operations team has sequenced a checksum test of the lower portion of flash to get some data on the physical heath of the flash memory chips in general. Remaining science data will be returned from the flash file system prior to the reformat.

The rover remains power positive with a healthy energy balance, thermally stable and communicative both over X-band with the DSN and via UHF relay with the orbiters.

As of Sol 3764 (Aug. 26, 2014), the solar array energy production was 680 watt-hours with an estimated atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.858 and a solar array dust factor of 0.753.

Total odometry as of Sol 3765 (Aug. 27, 2014) is 25.28 miles (40.69 kilometers).

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