Status Report

NASA Mars Exploration Rover Spirit Update 10 February 2006

By SpaceRef Editor
February 12, 2006
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NASA Mars Exploration Rover Spirit Update 10 February 2006

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

After several months of driving, Spirit finally reached the semicircular geologic feature dubbed “Home Plate” in Gusev Crater. Spirit first got a 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 little 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 below the tabletop-like surface of Home Plate using instruments on the rover’s 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 2004.

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 engineers.

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 battery 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 spectrometer.

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 to 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).

SpaceRef staff editor.