Status Report

NASA Mars Exploration Rover Status 9 August 2005

By SpaceRef Editor
August 10, 2005
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NASA Mars Exploration Rover Status 9 August 2005

SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit 100 Meters from the Top – sol 559-565, Aug 09, 2005:

Spirit has been busy performing investigations with the tools on its robotic arm. It studied two targets on the rock dubbed “Bourgeoisie,” and did a small bump to “Hausmann” to take some microscopic images. The plan was to drive away the next day, but the uplink did not happen correctly. The drive was replanned for Aug. 5 (sol 565). As of sol 564, Spirit is approximately 100 meters (328 feet) from the summit, and the rover will continue driving towards it.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 559 (July 29, 2005): Spirit continued Moessbauer spectrometer investigations on “Chic” (a target on the rock Bourgeoisie).

Sol 560: Spirit took pictures with the microscopic imager, brushed with the rock abrasion tool, and performed an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer reading on “Gentil Matrice” (another target on Bourgeoisie).

Sol 561: Spirit used the Moessbauer spectrometer on Gentil Matrice and did targeted remote sensing.

Sol 562: Spirit finished its Moessbauer spectrometer investigations on Gentil Matrice, and drove to Hausmann (the rock next door).

Sol 563: Spirit took pictures of Hausmann with the microscopic imager. A drive to “Assemblee” (the next target) was desired, but there was not enough time. A nap was required to keep rover internal temperatures below the allowable limit, so the drive was eliminated from the plan.

Sol 564: The plan was for Spirit to drive a small “bump” to Assemblee. This plan did not make it to the rover. Before the communications uplink window started, the sweep into the low-gain antenna failed, and the Deep Space Network antenna did not lock up on the high-gain antenna until after all sequences were sent. The default science plan already onboard ran studies of the atmosphere with the panoramic camera.

Sol 565 (Aug. 5, 2005): This sol’s plan was a repeat of the plan for sol 564, and all commands were sent to Spirit twice. As of the beginning of its 565th sol on Mars, Spirit had driven 4,689 meters (2.91 miles).

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: On an Ice-Cream-Cone Outcrop – sol 538-543, Aug 09, 2005:

Opportunity continues to make progress south toward “Erebus” crater. The rover planners are doing an excellent job keeping Opportunity safely within the confines of the ripple troughs and determining where the rover can cross from one ripple trough into another. The rover team tries to keep Opportunity inside the ripple troughs, and plans to follow the troughs south until Opportunity can safely move into a “better” trough.

This week (July 29 to August 3), Opportunity has driven an additional 80 meters (262 feet). Opportunity’s odometer now reads 5,696 meters (3.54 miles). As Opportunity continues a southward trek, team members are seeing more and more outcrop. Opportunity is still about about 50 meters (164 feet) north of the “Erebus highway” — an area the team suspects to be highly populated with outcrop and perhaps easier to navigate. Opportunity is roughly 185 to 200 meters (607 to 656 feet) north of Erebus crater, the next large crater Opportunity will encounter.

The team has been watching Opportunity’s power very carefully. It seems that Opportunity is losing some of the power boost it received during the last cleaning event. The solar array wake up time has been getting later each day and is currently 9:48 Mars Local Solar Time. The team has been planning accordingly, taking steps to preserve power where appropriate.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 538 (July 29, 2005) to Sol 540 (July 31, 2005): Opportunity took pictures of the solar arrays and magnets with the microscopic imager, then did an overnight integration with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. On sol 539, Opportunity drove. On sol 540, it performed remote sensing.

Sol 541: The rover drove 25 meters (82 feet).

Sol 542: The rover drove 23 meters (75 feet).

Sol 543 (August 3, 2005): Opportunity executed a very impressive 8-meter (26-foot) approach drive. Scott Maxwell and Jeng Yen were given the task to drive about 8 meters (26 feet) and place the rover on top of an ice-cream-cone-shaped plot of outcrop. Normally this would be a two-sol endeavor: an approach sol and a final bump to the robotic-arm target. But this single-sol drive worked perfectly. They managed to send Opportunity across a ripple and place the rover in exactly the location specified by the science team! To paraphrase Scott Maxwell while describing the drive: “We will cross over ‘fudge ripple,’ move along the ‘Rocky Road,’ and park right at the scoop.” This is exactly what happened.

SpaceRef staff editor.