Status Report

NASA Mars Rovers Status 15 Mar 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
March 15, 2004
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SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit’s Busiest Day – sol 70, Mar 15, 2004

Spirit began what would be a very busy sol 70, which ended at 3:47 a.m. PST March 15, by analyzing a soil target dubbed “Gobi 1” with the Mössbauer spectrometer. This was the first of 43 observations that Spirit would complete on sol 70, breaking the previous observation record of 31 observations in one sol.

After the successful Mössbauer integration, Spirit took panoramic camera images of the sky. Then the miniature thermal emission spectrometer analyzed rock and soil targets. Following this, Spirit turned its panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer to a range surface and atmospheric observations. Before the sol ended, Spirit also took microscopic images of the Mössbauer footprint left on the soil target and switched instruments to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer for a long integration starting early on sol 71 at the “Gobi 1” location.

Spirit will spend Sol 71, which will end at 4:26 a.m. PST March 16, completing the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer analysis, taking panoramic camera images and microscopic imager images of the area, and then driving 15 meters (49.2 feet) to a location dubbed “Serpent Dune” in the afternoon.

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Finishing up at the Outcrop – sol 50, Mar 15, 2004

On sol 50, which ended at 4:08 p.m. PST on March 15, Opportunity got closer to completing its observations of the rock outcrop. The rover arm, with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer at the ready, was placed on the rock called “Shark’s Tooth” for a 30-minute observation. The microscopic imager then took a series of pictures of the targets “Enamel 1” and “Lamination.” The focus then switched back to “Shark’s Tooth” for an examination by the Moessbauer spectrometer.

The song chosen to awaken Opportunity was “The Dentist” by Bill Cosby, in honor of the toothy targets in “Shark’s Cage.”

The sol also included many panoramic camera observations of targets with creative names like “Patio Rug,” “Anaconda Snake Den,” “West Zen Garden” and “Garter Snake.”

The next sol calls for a final experiment at the outcrop called “scuffing.” “Scuffing” essentially turns one of the rover wheels into a tool to scrape a rock to help determine its hardness. The rock “Carousel” will be scraped by Opportunity’s front left wheel. After that experiment, the rover will begin its trans-crater traverse to five soil survey targets, the first of which will lead Opportunity up the sandy southern face of the crater.

SpaceRef staff editor.