Status Report

NASA Mars Exploration Rover Status 9 December 2005

By SpaceRef Editor
December 11, 2005
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NASA Mars Exploration Rover Status 9 December 2005

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Encouraging Results from Shoulder-Motor Testing – sol 661-667, Dec 09, 2005:

Opportunity is currently parked at “Erebus Crater,” where it has continued remote-sensing science while the team made progress in diagnosing why a motor in the robotic arm stalled on sol 654. The motor turned successfully when supplied with more current on sol 666 (Dec. 8, 2005), an encouraging result. The arm was still in a stowed position after that testing. Further tests and analysis are planned for determining the best strategy for future use of the arm. The arm, which deploys four tools for examining rocks and soils, has already operated more than seven times as long as originally planned.

This motor at the shoulder of the arm is necessary for getting the arm out of its stowed position. Earlier tests made some alternative explanations — such as a physical obstruction or degraded lubrication — appear unlikely. The sol 666 test established confidence in a hypothesis that a broken wire in the winding of the motor caused the sol 654 stall. The test rotated the motor four revolutions at each of three different applied voltages. Tests to characterize the motor’s behavior will continue in the coming week.

In the target-rich environment of outcrop exposed in and near Erebus, Opportunity has acquired a color panorama of the surroundings, a color mosaic of itself, and high-resolution images of several outcrop targets. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer successfully collected data on some high-priority science targets during sol 664 (Dec. 6, 2005). Informal names for targets examined in this vicinity by the panoramic camera include “Drake,” “Chino Valley,” “Bellemont,” “Camp Verde,” “Young,” “Cherry,” and “Paulden.”

Opportunity did not drive this week. The rover’s odometry total as of sol 666 remained 6,502 meters (4.04 miles).

SpaceRef staff editor.