Spirit Rover Update
9 Jan 2007
- sol 1063-1069, January 05, 2007:
The dust storm season has apparently arrived at Gusev, causing delays in Spirit's fourth Earth year of exploring the Red Planet. Spirit spent most of the holiday season of 2006 and 2007 keeping an eye on the sky, measuring atmospheric dust that could prevent sunlight from reaching the rover's solar panels.
During the past week, atmospheric dust levels have been typical for this time of year on Mars, measuring about 1 on the scale used by the rover. The rover estimates dust levels by measuring opacity -- the degree to which the atmosphere is impenetrable by light. This value is known as tau and varies on a continuous scale from 0 on up. During most of Spirit's mission on Mars, tau values have fallen between 0 and 1. Values between 1 and 2 can greatly limit the activities the rover can perform. Values of 2 or greater could be fatal.
In addition to measuring atmospheric dust, Spirit continued to watch for dust devils and successfully retested step No. 3 of new computer smarts that will enable the rover to autonomously place scientific instruments of the rover's robotic arm onto a target of scientific interest. During the test, Spirit was able to take images of the workspace, unstow the arm, and plan a path of approach for reaching a target.
Next up for Spirit will be an attempt to approach and conduct scientific analysis of a layered rock exposure known as "Montalva," part of a larger outcrop known as "Troll."
In addition to daily observations that included measuring atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera, searching for clouds with the navigation camera, scanning the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and imaging the sky with the panoramic camera, Spirit completed the following activities.
Sol 1063 (Dec. 29, 2006): After completing a short drive the previous day to a north-facing slope that tilted the rover's solar panels toward the sun, Spirit monitored atmospheric dust, acquired panoramic camera images of a place (called "Desolacion") where the rover's tracks cross each other, surveyed the Martian horizon with the panoramic camera, and monitored dust accumulation on the rover mast.
Sol 1064: Spirit monitored atmospheric dust and surveyed the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.
Sol 1065: Spirit monitored atmospheric dust.
Sol 1066: Spirit monitored atmospheric dust.
Sol 1067: Spirit monitored atmospheric dust and searched for dust devils by acquiring successive navigation camera images that could be made into a movie.
Sol 1068 (Third Earth-year anniversary of Spirit's landing): Spirit monitored atmospheric dust, surveyed surrounding rocks with the panoramic camera, acquired full-color images of Desolacion with the panoramic camera, and retested step No. 3 of the robotic arm autonomous placement code.
Sol 1069 (Jan. 5, 2006): Plans called for Spirit to approach Montalva, acquire full-color panoramic camera images of a spongy-looking lava rock known as "Esperanza," and acquire panoramic camera images of Montalva and another layered rock exposure known as "Riquelme."
As of sol 1062 (Dec. 28, 2006), Spirit's total odometry was 6,891.34 meters (4.28 miles)