Status Report

NASA Mars Rover Status 11 Aug 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
August 11, 2004
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NASA Mars Rover Status 11 Aug 2004

SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit is investigating ‘Clovis’ outcrop – sol 205-208,
August 11, 2004

Over the last few sols, Spirit struggled mightily to reach a rock
outcrop called “Clovis,” overcoming the challenge of rough, steep
terrain and subsequent backsliding. The site is near the crest of the
“West Spur” of “Columbia Hills.”

On sol 205, Spirit attempted to reach Clovis by climbing out of the
sandy hollow in which it was sitting. Unfortunately, on a slope of more
than 20 degrees, slippage caused Spirit to dance around the outcrop. The
drive was finally cut off by a time-of-day limit on rover mobility.

The plan for sol 206 was designed to accommodate up to a 50 percent slip
and still reach the outcrop target. However, due to challenging terrain
near Clovis, Spirit again did not end up exactly where scientists and
engineers wanted it to go. For part of its traverse, Spirit slipped
about 125 percent, actually losing ground in its attempt to move uphill.

Late in the sol, internal software experienced a timing problem in which
two instrument-related commands were given at nearly the same time,
temporarily precluding further operation of the miniature thermal
emission spectrometer and camera mast on Spirit.

Sol 207 became a recovery sol. While the timing issue was being
analyzed, engineers decided not to use the mast, panoramic cameras,
navigation cameras, Mössbauer spectrometer, alpha particle X-ray
spectrometer, or the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. On the
bright side, since the problem did not affect communications, a
communications experiment with the European Space Agency’s Mars Express
orbiter was successfully conducted in the early morning hours of sol 208.

By sol 208, which ended on Aug. 3, Pacific Time, the mast had been
declared usable. Operators commanded Spirit to drive 7.5 meters (25.6
feet) to Clovis, using a route avoiding the steepest terrain that had
created problems for the rover in earlier sols.

Spirit is examining Clovis. This outcrop will likely be the subject of
Spirit’s most intensive investigation to date.

SpaceRef staff editor.