Status Report

NASA Mars Rovers Status 13 Mar 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
March 15, 2004
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Opportunity Status for sol 47 Aiming for Shark’s Tooth – posted Mar. 12, 6:30 pm PST

On sol 47, which ended at 2:10 p.m. PST on Friday March 12, Opportunity awoke to “No Particular Place to Go” by Chuck Berry in recognition of the stay at “Berry Bowl.” Engineers also played “That’s Amore” by Dean Martin in honor of the Phobos moon’s transit across the sky.

Opportunity finished remnants of activities from the past sol’s research at “Berry Bowl.” The sol started with the hazard avoidance camera taking a picture of the “Berry Bowl” area as a context picture. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer then performed some “sky stares” of the atmosphere. At 11:30 Local Solar Time, the robotic arm started moving. It picked up the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and moved to a new location nearby, then switched to the Moessbauer spectrometer. Both spectrometers are searching for clues about the chemical composition of the mysterious “blueberries.”

Later, Opportunity took panoramic camera images of the suite magnet on the rover itself, which is collecting atmospheric dust samples to understand why the martian dust is so magnetic. The panoramic camera also took images of a target dubbed “Fool’s Silver,” which contains an interesting angular feature in the outcrop.

After all the morning’s hard work, Opportunity took a short siesta to rest and recharge. Opportunity reawakened a few hours later to take more images of the atmosphere with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera. Those were taken in the same locations as the morning measurements to compare the atmospheric data throughout the sol.

At 15:40 Local Solar Time, Opportunity took about a dozen images of the Sun to catch the eclipse by the martian moon, Phobos. Opportunity once again shut down for a nap and woke up at 4:53 Local Solar Time, sol 48, for a tool change and a communications session with the Odyssey orbiter. While the rover was awake for the Odyssey pass, the rover heated up the robotic arm, which had chilled to almost -80 degrees Celsius (-112 degrees Fahrenheit). The motors cannot move at that frigid temperature, so the rover arm heated for 32 minutes to surpass the operational temperature of 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). As the rover arm quickly cooled, the heat lasted long enough (5 minutes) for the arm to twist its wrist and change instruments from the Moessbauer spectrometer back to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

The rest of the plan for sol 48, which will end at 2:49 p.m. PST on Saturday, March 13, is to perform quite a few complicated maneuvers. Opportunity plans to brush an area with the rock abrasion tool, analyze the brushed area with the spectrometers, then drive 10 meters (33 feet) along the slippery slopes of the outcrop to “Shark’s Tooth” in “Shoemaker’s Patio.”

Spirit Status for sol 68 – Spirit Sits Still for Science – posted Mar. 13, 1 pm PST

Spirit spent all of sol 68, which ended at 2:28 a.m. PST on March 13, 2004, at the “Bonneville” crater location. It began the morning operating the panoramic camera to acquire the first images of what will be a 360-degree shot of “Bonneville’s” rim and basin, and the “Columbia Hills” to the southeast.

Spirit also moved the instrument deployment device, or rover arm, into position to acquire panoramic camera images of the magnets on the rock abrasion tool. It then placed the Moessbauer spectrometer on soil for a short integration after taking five microscopic imager images.

Around 13:35 Mars Local Solar time, one of Mars’ moons, Deimos, passed in front of the sun. Scientists and rover controllers took this opportunity to image the moon’s transit with the panoramic camera before completing mini thermal emission spectrometer observations of the crater interior.

Spirit’s work isn’t over though. The Moessbauer will continue analyzing the soil at “Bonneville’s” rim through the night.

Sol 69, which will end at 3:07 a.m. PST on March 14, 2004, will also be a no-drive sol during which Spirit will acquire the second half of the 360-degree panoramic camera image of Bonneville. Spirit will also perform remote sensing of the inside of the crater and analyze soil targets with the Moessbauer and alpha particle x-ray spectrometer.

SpaceRef staff editor.