Status Report

NASA Mars Rover Status 20 Jul 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
July 21, 2004
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OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Opportunity Multi-Tasks on the Slopes of ‘Endurance Crater’ – sol 166-169, July 20, 2004

Sol 166’s tasks for Spirit included imaging of possible traverse paths
inside "Endurance Crater," then the start of a long period of data
collection by the M�ssbauer spectrometer on a target called "Dahlia."
All went as planned.

Sol 167 saw completion of the M�ssbauer spectrometer’s long integration
at Dahlia, acquisition of some microscopic imager pictures, and
placement of the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on the capture
magnet, which is one of the two magnets on the front of the rover deck.
In the early morning hours of sol 168, the alpha particle X-ray
spectrometer collected data at this magnet. The composition of material
sticking to the magnet is what interests scientists.

On sol 168, the rover lifted the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer off
the capture magnet and replaced it with the M�ssbauer spectrometer for
the start of a long integration with that instrument. These
complementary measurements of the material on the capture magnet should
provide insight into the composition and magnetic properties of the dust
around the rover. Remote-sensing activities were also performed.

On sol 169, the rover drove deeper into the crater. A judgment had been
made that the terrain in front of the rover would be no more difficult
to traverse than terrain the rover had already crossed. Further, the
science team was very interested in some geologic features about 3 to 4
meters (about 10 to 13 feet) down the slope, next to and including a
rock called "Knossos." The rover stowed its arm and trundled down the
nearly 30-degree slope, arriving on a more-level area exactly where
engineers intended. The rover is now below the steepest part of the
inner slope in this part of the crater.

Up to this point, Opportunity had not been commanded to take any images
during an ultra-high-frequency (UHF) relay session with orbiting
spacecraft. Testing prior to launch suggested that there could be
electromagnetic interference that would degrade the telemetry link, so
operations had carefully kept those activities separate. However, time
could be used more efficiently if the rover could simultaneously take
images and communicate. As an experiment, the rover was commanded to
take navigation camera and panoramic camera images while transmitting on
sols 167 and 168, respectively. The quality of data sent during use of
the navigation camera has been analyzed, and there seems to have been no
ill effect. Data is still being analyzed from the transmission during
use of the panoramic camera. The UHF relay session returned the expected
amount of data. In both cases, no degradation of images was expected or
seen. Based on this experiment, the engineering team will consider
lifting the restriction against imaging during a UHF session.

SpaceRef staff editor.