Status Report

Mars Exploration Rover Status by Steve Squyres 9 June 2005

By SpaceRef Editor
June 9, 2005
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Mars Exploration Rover Status by Steve Squyres 9 June 2005

Today is something of a landmarks for us. As of the end of today’s MER-B Command Approval Meeting, which will take place late this evening on the west coast of the US, and probably close to midnight here on the east coast, we will have planned one thousand sols on the surface of Mars… 490 for Opportunity and 510 for Spirit.

The uplink process for these vehicles is intense, engrossing and exhausting. At some point I probably should sit down and describe it in these pages. For today, though, I’ll just tip my hat to all of my friends, colleagues and comrades — engineer and scientist alike — on the MER uplink team. 1000 sols is a remarkable accomplishment.

Good things are happening on both sides of the planet. At Meridiani, we’ll soon begin our first maneuvers to reorient the rover so that we can study the feature that got us and then be on our way again. And the feature that got us now has a name: Purgatory Dune. We weren’t calling it anything back when we were stuck in it, but now that we’re out, it seemed there ought to be a name for the thing.

At Gusev, Spirit is parked at Backstay and crankin’ away. Once we’re done with Backstay, we’re going to do a quick drive-by of Methuselah to get a little more imaging on it that’ll help tell us which way the rocks are tilting. And with that done we’ll be ready to move on.

If you’ve been reading these pages, you’ll note that I haven’t said yet where we’re going after Methuselah. I wasn’t playing games… the reality was that we hadn’t decided. It’s a much tougher call than you might think, because there are some very interesting outcrops down in Tennessee Valley, and some really good-looking stuff on the far wall of the valley. But after a lot of thought we have finally decided, and the decision is to head up Husband Hill. We’re not going to try a frontal assault this time. Instead, we’re going to spiral up and to the right, working both upslope and also cross-slope simultaneously. Whether we’ll actually reach the summit is an open question at this point. But we’re convinced that the route we’ve chosen offers the quickest path to a view of whatever’s on the south side of the hill… and that’s what we want to see next.

SpaceRef staff editor.