Status Report

NASA Mars Exploration Rover Updates 22 Feb 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
February 22, 2004
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Spirit Status for sol 49 – Trench Exam Continues – posted Feb. 22, 1 pm PST

Spirit continued its inspection of the trench dubbed “Road Cut” during the rover’s 49th sol, ending at 1:56 p.m. Sunday, PST. It used three instruments on its robotic arm to examine the subsurface soil exposed by the sol 47 digging of the trench.

Before dawn on sol 49, Spirit switched from its Moessbauer spectrometer to its alpha particle X-ray spectrometer for analysis of soil on the trench floor. Later, controllers played “Coisinha do Pai,” by Beth Carvalho, as wake-up music. The rover inspected targets on the wall and floor of the trench with its microscope, then placed the Moessbauer spectrometer against a target on the trench wall for identifying the iron-bearing minerals there. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer took remote readings on the rover’s wheel tracks in the morning and afternoon.

Plans for sol 50 (ending at 2:35 p.m. Monday, PST) call for finishing inspection of the trench, then resuming the journey toward the rim of a crater dubbed “Bonneville,” followed by a longer drive the following sol.


Opportunity Status for sol 28 – Busy Microscope at “El Capitan” – posted Feb. 22, 1 pm PST

On sol 28, which ended at 1:38 a.m. Sunday, PST, Opportunity moved its arm repeatedly to make close-up inspections the “El Capitan” part of the street-curb-sized outcrop in the crater where the rover is working. Opportunity took 46 pictures with its microscope, examining several locations on “El Capitan” at a range of focal distances. It also placed its Moessbauer spectrometer and its alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on the rock target to assess what minerals and what elements are present.

Controllers chose the song “I am a Rock,” performed by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, as Opportunity’s sol 28 wake-up music. The sol’s activities included observations by the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and the panoramic camera, as well as the use of the tools on the arm.

The arm’s complex maneuvers totaled 25 minutes of actual arm movement. Rover planners’ success in accomplishing them drew a round of applause in the Mission Support Area at JPL during the afternoon downlink from Mars.

During the martian night, early on sol 29, Opportunity woke up and moved its arm again to switch from the Moessbauer spectrometer to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. Additional close-up inspections are planned for later in sol 29, which ends at 2:17 a.m. Monday. Plans for sol 30 feature the use of the rock abrasion tool to grind through the surface at one target on “El Capitan.”

SpaceRef staff editor.