Status Report

NASA Mars Rovers Status 30 Mar 2004

By SpaceRef Editor
March 30, 2004
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SPIRIT UPDATE: Rat Bears Down on “Brooklyn” – sol 84, Mar 30, 2004

The angular nature of the rock called “Mazatzal” required some
extra rodent power over the weekend. The latest grind by Spirit’s
rock abrasion tool (the RAT) resulted in the deepest human-made
hole on another planet – nearly 8 millimeters (0.31 inches. The
rover was inspired to tackle the target “Brooklyn” right next
to its “New York” bull’s-eye by the Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep Till
Brooklyn” on its 83rd sol, which ended at 12:22 p.m. PST on March 28.

Spirit’s 84th sol, which ended at 1:01 p.m. PST on March 29, was
planned as a day of investigation. The miniature thermal emission
spectrometer and panoramic camera made successful observations of
the crater informally named “Bonneville,” but planned operations of
the rover arm were not executed due to a switch on the Moessbauer
spectrometer getting momentarily stuck. After a successful
Moessbauer integration, the instrument was pulled back from
Mazatzal, but one of two contact switches did not indicate a
no-contact condition. Although the instrument had been retracted,
the rover’s software interpreted this as an unexpected collision
of the spectrometer with an object, so it terminated any further
arm operations. The stuck switch flipped about three minutes later
but the rover is programmed to wait until the false error is
cleared by mission control.

On sol 85, Spirit will retake microscope images of areas on Mazatzal,
and overnight Moessbauer and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer
integrations will be repeated.

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Opportunity Takes a Breather – sol 64, Mar 30, 2004

On Opportunity’s 64th sol, which ended at 1:22 a.m. PST on March 30,
the rover team analyzed the results of engineering activities run to
investigate an error message they received from the rover on sol 63.

A problem with a secondary memory file was isolated and resolved.
Just as an ordinary computer disk can have corrupted sections, a
corrupted file in an area where rover commands are addressed and
stored has been identified. Engineers have identified the location
of the problem within the memory and figuratively fenced it off,
containing it and preventing it from harming any future command
sequences. This minor issue has not impeded the rover from resuming
normal science operations on the next sol.

The wake-up song chosen for Opportunity on this quiet sol was “Stand”
by REM.

The rover is currently at the rock dubbed “Bounce.” Opportunity met
this rock once before; while still cloaked in its protective lander
and airbags, the rover bounced on the rock while on its way to a safe
landing in “Eagle Crater.” Miniature thermal emission spectrometer
observations have shown Bounce is rich in hematite. In the coming sols,
the rover’s other spectrometers will examine the rock before the rock
abrasion tool grinds into a designated target.

SpaceRef staff editor.