Spirit Update: Rolling Along

sol 62, Mar 07, 2004

(NASA/JPL) During its 62nd sol [day] on Mars, ending at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, PST, NASA’s Spirit advanced about one-fifth of the remaining distance between where it began the sol and its mid-term destination, the rim of the crater nicknamed "Bonneville." In the martian afternoon, Spirit took images and infrared readings of the area right in front of its stopping place to support the following morning’s close-up inspection of that new location with instruments on the rover’s robotic arm.

Spirit drove 26.15 meters (85.8 feet) on sol 62, bringing its odometer total to 250.71 meters (822.5 feet). Some of the drive maneuvered around obstacles. The net gain in the northeasterly direction toward the crater rim was 22 meters (72 feet), and that destination was estimated to be about 88 meters (289 feet) away from Spirit’s new location. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer was used for ground and sky observations both before and after the drive.

The wake-up song for the sol was "My First Trip to Mars," by Atticus Fault.

For sol 62, ending at 11:10 p.m. Sunday, PST, Spirit’s agenda is to drive on toward the crater rim after using the microscope and spectrometers on its arm to inspect the site where it wakes up.

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Spirit Update: Ready to Hit the Road Again

sol 60, Mar 04, 2004

This image taken by the microscopic imager on the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit shows a close-up look at the rock dubbed "Humphrey." The image was taken after the rover drilled into the rock with its rock abrasion tool, exposing fresh rock underneath. Scientists examined "Humphrey" for clues to its past with scientific instruments on the rover’s robotic arm. This image was taken on the 60th martian day, or sol, of Spirit’s mission. The rover is on its way to a large crater nicknamed "Bonneville."

Cornell / USGS / NASA / JPL

(NASA/JPL) Spirit completed its observations at "Middle Ground" on its 60th martian sol, ending at 9:11 p.m., PST on March 4. Waking up to "Pictures to Prove It," by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Spirit finished gathering data from the rock abrasion tool hole on "Humphrey" with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and the microscopic imager.

The panoramic camera then continued to acquire more images for the 360-degree view from the current rover position at "Middle Ground."

After backing up 0.85 meters (about 2.8 feet), the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera had their turn to collect data and images from both of the rock abrasion tool’s latest efforts on "Humphrey" – the triple-brushed area and the depression.

As of this sol, Spirit has traveled 195.24 meters (about 641 feet).

Plans for next sol include backing up and turning to avoid "Ingrid," a 20-centimeter (about 8 inches) rock to the west of "Humphrey," and then driving approximately 25 meters (82 feet) toward "Bonneville" in the northeast. Spirit will also snap the final images that will make up the 360-degree panorama of "Middle Ground."

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Opportunity Update: No Hole This Time

sol 42, Mar 07, 2004

(NASA/JPL) NASA’s Opportunity attempted to grind a shallow hole into a target called "Flat Rock" during its 42nd sol on Mars, ending at 10:51 a.m. Sunday, PST. However, the operation of the rover’s rock abrasion tool produced almost no discernable impression on the rock. All indications are that the tool is healthy. Controllers plan to run some diagnostic tests during sol 43 (ending at 11:31 a.m. Monday, PST) to aid with tuning parameters for a second grinding attempt on the target on sol 44.

Opportunity observed the Sun with its panoramic camera on sol 42 as a practice run for future imaging of Mars’ moon Phobos passing in front of the Sun. The alpha particle X-ray spectrometer was placed against "Flat Rock" for an overnight reading to identify the chemical elements present.

Wake-up song for the sol was "Break on Through (to the Other Side)," by The Doors.

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Opportunity Update: Opportunity Fit at Forty

sol 40, Mar 05, 2004

This three dimensional model shows a region of the outcrop dubbed "Last Chance" near the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity’s landing site. The model was created with images taken by the rover’s panoramic camera. The layered rocks were recently the subject of an extensive series of microscopic images.

Cornell / Ames / NASA / JPL

(NASA/JPL) After 40 good days on the surface, Opportunity is showing no signs of middle age.

On sol 40, which ended at 9:32 a.m. PST, March 5, 2004, Opportunity finished a set of overnight alpha particle X-ray spectrometer measurements at "Last Chance" and completed a morning set of panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer remote sensing observations. At 11:30 Local Solar Time, engineers retracted the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer off the target, took a final set of 24 microscopic images, and stowed the arm for driving.

Opportunity then scored another first by successfully using visual odometry to navigate autonomously on Mars. During a drive along the crater wall, the vehicle properly identified wheel slippage on the steep slope of the crater wall using features in the navigation camera imagery. This effectively provided a mid-course correction that landed the science and engineering team exactly at the target location where they want Opportunity to do work using the instruments on the rover arm on sol 41.

The plan for sol 41, which will end at 10:12 a.m. PST, March 6 will be to take microscopic images of an area dubbed "Wave Ripple" in the "Last Chance" area, followed by a traverse to "Slick Rock" in the "Berry Bowl" area.

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