Status Report

NASA Mars Rovers Status 16 Mar 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
March 16, 2004
Filed under , , ,

SPIRIT UPDATE: Steering to ‘Serpent’ – sol 71, Mar 16, 2004

Spirit began sol 71, which ended at 4:26 a.m. PST March 16, 2004, with a morning nap to re-charge after the record-breaking number of activities it accomplished on sol 70. After that, it was back to work. Spirit began by retracting the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, closing the doors, and imaging the doors with the front hazard avoidance cameras to confirm that they were closed. Spirit then proceeded to observe a soil target with the microscopic imager, and it also used the panoramic camera to observe the magnets, do a sky survey and capture a dust devil movie.

Then it was time to drive. Spirit completed a 15-meter (49.2 feet) blind drive followed by a 3-meter (9.8 feet) auto-navigation drive around the south rim of “Bonneville” crater toward a drift named “Serpent.” Once there, Spirit completed post-drive science observations and a miniature thermal emission spectrometer study of the atmosphere, ground and future drive direction.

Spirit’s main objective on sol 72, which ends at 5:06 a.m. PST March 17, 2004, will be to disturb and analyze the material at Serpent. Spirit will drive over the dune and back up to an optimal observation position. It will then analyze the area with the panoramic camera and mini thermal emission spectrometer. Spirit will end the sol by driving back on top of the dune.

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: “Scuff and Go” – sol 51, Mar 16, 2004

Opportunity reached the first of five targets in its current soil survey on the rover’s 51st sol on Mars. The sol, which ended at 4:47 p.m. PST on March 16, began with a salute to the rover’s intended target on the southern face of the crater where it has been exploring since its early sols on Mars. “Song of the South” by Alabama was chosen to wake Opportunity for a busy sol that involved a 15-meter (49.2 feet) u-shaped drive toward the soil target.

Before the rover ventured away from the outcrop that has been the focus for the majority of its mission, alpha particle X-ray spectrometer observations were completed on the red rind dubbed “Shark’s Tooth.” The arm was stowed before Opportunity “scuffed” the rock “Carousel” with its front left wheel. Results of the experiment were imaged as Opportunity backed up and prepared for its drive away from the outcrop.

Backing down towards the center of the crater and then arcing around the Challenger Memorial Station, Opportunity ultimately drove back up the slope to a position fairly close to the rim. On its way to the current soil target, the rover was also able to image the trench it previously dug on sol 23 from a different angle.

In the coming sols, Opportunity will use the instruments on its arm to examine all five soil targets identified for the soil survey.

SpaceRef staff editor.