Status Report

NASA Mars Exploration Rover Updates 16 Feb 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
February 19, 2004
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SPIRIT UPDATE: Mega Drive – sol 43, Feb 16, 2004

Spirit spent the wee morning hours of sol 43 gathering data about a
wheel-track target with the Mˆssbauer spectrometer, then tucked its arm
and drove. It used a two-session method engineers call a "mega drive" in
order to make good progress toward the crater nicknamed "Bonneville." The
first driving session covered 19 meters (62.3 feet) after long-running
morning activities shortened the time for driving. After a rest, Spirit
continued another 8.5 meters (27.9 feet) in the afternoon, resulting in a
total drive of 27.5 meters (90.2 feet), a new one-sol record. Sol 43 ended
at 9:58 a.m. Monday, PST. The remaining distance to "Bonneville" is about
245 meters (about 800 feet) from Spirit’s new location.

For sol 44, which will end at 10:38 a.m. Tuesday, PST, controllers plan
"touch-and-go" activities: deploying the arm on a target called "Ramp Flats"
before continuing toward Bonneville.

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Check Before Digging – sol 22, Feb 16, 2004

Opportunity spent much of sol 22, which ended at 9:39 p.m. Sunday, PST,
making a thorough "before" examination of the spot selected for digging a
ditch the next sol.

Also, Opportunity completed upward-looking observations before, during and
after Mars Global Surveyor flew overhead looking down. Opportunity and
Global Surveyor have similar infrared sensing instruments: the miniature
thermal emission spectrometer on the rover and the (full-size) thermal
emission spectrometer on the orbiter. Coordinated observations of looking
up through the atmosphere with one while looking down through the atmosphere
with the other were designed to provide a more complete atmospheric
profile than either could do alone.

Sol 22’s wake-up music was "Invisible Touch" by Genesis. In preparation
for digging, Opportunity examined the trenching site with its microscopic
imager, its Mˆssbauer spectrometer and, overnight, its alpha particle
X-ray spectrometer.

The plan for sol 23, which will end at 10:19 p.m. Monday, PST, is to dig a
trench with alternating forward and backward spinning of Opportunity’s right
front wheel in order to see what’s below the surface. Inspections of the
resulting hole are planned for sol 24 and the morning of sol 25.

SpaceRef staff editor.