Status Report

NASA Mars Rover Status 18 Aug 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
August 20, 2004
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OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Power Boost for Opportunity – sol 196-199, August 18, 2004

Opportunity is healthy and continuing to investigate a rock outcrop
dubbed "Axel Heiberg" on the southern slope of "Endurance Crater." The
rover’s solar energy input has risen above 610 watt-hours the last few
sols, which is more than it has experienced since about sol 100. The
additional power may be the result of less hazy skies.

On sol 196, Opportunity completed an overnight reading with the
M�ssbauer spectrometer on a hole into Axel Heiberg where the rock
abrasion tool gnawed off the rock’s outer surface on sol 193. Then the
rover bumped back about half a meter (about 1.6 feet) to position itself
for reaching an interesting vein feature. After the bump, Opportunity
made observations of the abraded hole with its miniature thermal
emission spectrometer and panoramic camera data to complete the remote
sensing of that target.

Opportunity completed a microscopic imager mosaic of the vein feature
called "Sermilik" on sol 197. The rover also acquired panoramic camera
and miniature thermal emission spectrometer data of sand spots to
identify future targets for the rover arm. Overnight deep sleep was used
to conserve power.

On sol 198, Opportunity awoke from deep sleep and used heaters to warm
the panoramic camera mast assembly in preparation for morning cloud, sky
and ground imaging and miniature thermal emission spectrometer
observations. It made a daytime M�ssbauer inspection of a 3-centimeter
(1.2-inch) chuck of vein material that was apparently broken off from
the vein when the rover backed up. This was followed by a tool change to
the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer before sleep. Opportunity awoke
for an early morning Mars Odyssey communications pass and turned on the
alpha particle X-ray spectrometer for a nearly 6-hour integration.

Opportunity’s planned abrading of a target called "Jiffypop" failed on
sol 199. The preparatory seek-scan process successfully found the rock
surface, but a motor stall prevented any further activity by the rock
abrasion tool. Planned microscopic imager pictures of the target area
and remote sensing were acquired successfully.

The stall of the rock abrasion tool on sol 199 is under investigation.
Sol 200 activities will focus on diagnostic imaging and motor actuations
to confirm the health of the tool. Another issue being reviewed is the
failure of the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer doors to close fully on
sol 199. This has been seen several times before, and in this case the
rover team did not have positive confirmation that doors were properly
latched open. Plans for sol 200, ending Aug. 16, include door opening
and closing on the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

SpaceRef staff editor.