Status Report

NASA Mars Rover Opportunity Update 4/16/12

By SpaceRef Editor
April 16, 2012
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Small Wheel Spin and Steering Wiggle to Stabilize Left-Front Wheel
Opportunity Status for sol 2907-2913

Opportunity is positioned on the north end of Cape York on the rim of Endeavour Crater with an approximate 15-degree northerly tilt for favorable solar energy production. The winter solstice (March 30, 2012) has now passed for the rover.

Radio Doppler tracking passes for the geo-dynamic investigation were performed on Sols 2909 and 2912 (March 30 and April 2, 2012). Atmospheric argon measurements were performed with the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) on Sols 2907 and 2909 (March 28 and March 30, 2012). Additional Panoramic camera (Pancam) images were taken on several sols, along with a 360-degree Navigation camera (Navcam) panorama to be used to refine knowledge of the rover’s attitude.

The project is continuing to investigate the anomalies from Sol 2899 (March 20, 2012), that indicate apparent downward motion (of a few millimeters) of the left-front wheel and a stall in the robotic arm (Instrument Deployment Device, IDD). On Sol 2910 (March 31, 2012), a Quick Fine Attitude (QFA) was performed to establish the rover’s attitude using the Sun along with the collection of additional Hazardous camera (Hazcam) imagery. No motion in the rover was observed when comparing these images to ones collected just after the anomalous wheel motion. However, the project is planning to stabilize the left-front wheel by performing a small wheel spin and a steering wiggle. These actions should remove any loose material under the wheel and relax any tension in the rover’s suspension. A small dust cleaning event around Sol 2911 (April 1, 2012), improved the solar array dust factor by a few percent.

As of Sol 2913 (April 3, 2012), solar array energy production was 321 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.521 and a solar array dust factor of 0.506.

Total odometry is unchanged at 21.35 miles (34,361.37 meters).

SpaceRef staff editor.