Status Report

NASA Mars Rover Status Report 12 April 2005

By SpaceRef Editor
April 14, 2005
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NASA Mars Rover Status Report 12 April 2005

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Opportunity visits ‘Viking’ and ‘Voyager’ craters – sol 421-429, April 12, 2005

Opportunity drove to “Viking Crater,” then continued to “Voyager Crater.” The rover took panoramas of each crater. While this was happening on the surface, the Mars Odyssey orbiter had gone into safe mode. Relay operations were suspended. With no post-drive imaging from the weekend, and very little data volume available in flash, Opportunity executed a few sols of low-volume remote sensing. Driving resumed on sol 428 with data downlinked via the direct-to-Earth link. With the exception of the miniature thermal emission spectrometer (analysis is still in progress), Opportunity is in excellent health.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 421 (March 31, 2005): Opportunity stowed its robotic arm (instrument deployment device) and drove 71.2 meters (234 feet) to Viking Crater.

Sol 422: On this restricted sol, only remote sensing was conducted. A panoramic camera mosaic of Viking Crater was acquired.

Sol 423: Opportunity drove 109.2 meters (358 feet) to Voyager Crater.

Sol 424: The rover used autonomous navigation to drive south 2.6 meters (about 9 feet). The drive ended early because the tilt limit of 12 degrees was reached, with Opportunity perched on the rim of Voyager Crater.

Sol 425: Before this remote-sensing-only plan kicked off, the rover team learned that its main communication link, Mars Odyssey, had gone into safe mode and the latest data available was from the afternoon of sol 422. On April 2, Odyssey entered “safe mode,” which is a protective state a spacecraft automatically enters when onboard fault protection software instructs the spacecraft to disregard its onboard sequence of commands and wait for instructions from the ground. As a result, relay communication with the rovers was suspended. The rover team was able to add a direct-to-Earth session to the plan, which confirmed that Opportunity was healthy.

Sol 426: After a 90-minute direct-to-Earth pass, Opportunity performed a small amount of remote sensing. Operations were restricted because post-drive imaging had not yet been transmitted to Earth, and the team wanted to save the small amount of volume in flash memory for an eventual drive.

Sol 427: Still operating in restricted mode, Opportunity again collected a small amount of remote-sensing data. It used the panoramic camera to assess the clarity of the atmosphere, tested the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and took a reading of air with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. A 90-minute direct-to-Earth pass during the day returned data for future planning. The Odyssey team brought the orbiter back on-line, and the Opportunity team received 50 megabits of data. The Odyssey team is investigating the cause behind the fault protection software sending the orbiter into safe mode.

Sol 428: The sol 427 direct-to-Earth pass returned enough data to plan a long drive. Opportunity drove 48.4 meters (159 feet), which put it over the 5-kilometer mark. The odometry total after this drive is 5,044 meters (3.13 miles).

Sol 429 (April 8, 2005): Restricted sol; remote science only.

SpaceRef staff editor.