Status Report

NASA Mars Rovers Status 14 Mar 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
March 15, 2004
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Opportunity Status for sol 48 – Shark Ahead – posted Mar. 14, 2 pm PST

NASA’s Opportunity finished inspecting the “Berry Bowl” site and drove 10
meters (33 feet) toward a new target during its 48th sol on Mars, which
ended at 2:50 p.m. Saturday, PST.

The rover used all four tools on its arm during the morning, ending with a
brushing by the rock abrasion tool, then post-brushing examinations with the
microscope and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. This closed out three sols
of work at “Berry Bowl” to compare the composition of targets with and
without groups of the BB-sized spherules believed to have formed while the
local environment was wet.

Opportunity then stowed its arm and drove toward an area dubbed “Shoemaker’s
Patio” at the southwestern end of the outcrop the rover has been studying
since it arrived on Mars. This informal name pays tribute to the late
geologist Dr. Eugene Shoemaker of the U.S. Geological Survey. Opportunity’s
more specific target is a rock called “Shark’s Tooth” at the near edge of the
patio. The drive did not quite put that target within reach of the robot arm.
Activities of the sol also included atmospheric observations with the
panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer, plus post-drive
imaging with the navigation camera.

Mission controllers at JPL chose John Williams’ “Jaws: Main Title and Fist
Victim” as the wake-up song for sol 48.

Plans for sol 49, ending at 3:28 p.m. Sunday PST, call for finishing the
approach to “Shark’s Tooth” after a morning examination of the ground right
in front of the rover. Inspection of “Shark’s Tooth” with tools on the
robotic arm is planned for sol 50.

Spirit Status for sol 69 – New Panorama on Board – posted Mar. 14, 2 pm PST

During its 69th sol on Mars, ending at 3:07 a.m. Sunday, PST, NASA’s Spirit
finished shooting frames with its panoramic camera for a full 360-degree
color view of the surroundings visible from the crater rim where the rover
is perched. Once the panorama frames are transmitted to Earth, scientists
will use them and information from Spirit’s miniature thermal emission
spectrometer to assess the structures and composition of the crater
interior and other surfaces in view.

Spirit did not move from its vantage point on the south rim of the crater
nicknamed “Bonneville.” An extra downlink session was added via relay by
NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter to accelerate getting the panoramic imaging data
to Earth. The total amount of data received from Spirit during the sol
through relays and direct-to-Earth transmission was 225 megabits.

In the martian afternoon, Spirit added a set of observations with the
miniature thermal emission spectrometer in coordination with overhead
passage of NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor orbiter, which carries a similar
spectrometer looking down. Events of the sol also included two camera
sessions requested by engineers. The first was to get high-resolution
images of Spirit’s heat shield on the northern rim of “Bonneville.” The
other was to photograph wheel tracks to help rover mobility specialists
assess slippage. For sol 69’s wake-up music, the team spun John Lennon’s
“Watching the Wheels.”

Plans for sol 70, ending at 3:47 a.m. Monday, PST, feature more remote
sensing from the rover’s current location, before a drive along the rim
begins on sol 71.

SpaceRef staff editor.