Opportunity Rover Update
9 Jan 2007
- sol 1043-1048, January 05, 2007:
Opportunity continued scientific studies of a rock called "Santa Catarina" on the rim of "Victoria Crater." Scientists suspect that Santa Catarina may be a meteorite or a rock blasted out from beneath the surface of Victoria. Opportunity collected extensive measurements to determine the iron content of the rock using the M?ssbauer spectrometer and will continue to do so during the coming week.
Other activities included analysis of cobbles nearby that may be similar to Santa Catarina. Based on the results, members of the science team will either decide to stay and continue investigating the rocks or drive toward the next promontory of Victoria Crater.
Opportunity also conducted tests in support of the Phoenix mission to Mars scheduled for launch later this year. On the rover's 1,037th and 1,047th Martian days, or sols, of exploration (Dec. 24, 2006 and Jan. 3, 2007), Opportunity sent UHF-band transmissions to NASA's Odyssey spacecraft as it passed overhead. These communications mimicked those to be used by Phoenix.
During a routine imaging session on New Year's Day (sol 1045), Opportunity detected a stall in the grind motor of the rock abrasion tool. Subsequent diagnostic tests found no obstructions. More diagnostics were planned for sol 1049 (Jan. 5, 2007).
In addition to daily observations that included measuring atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera, searching for clouds with the navigation camera, surveying the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and imaging the sky with the panoramic camera, Opportunity completed the following activities:
Sol 1043 (Dec. 30, 2006): Opportunity studied the elemental composition of the Martian atmosphere with the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer. The rover surveyed the surrounding plains, dust on the horizon, and the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.
Sol 1044: Opportunity acquired panoramic camera images to survey the soil, measure surface brightness, and scan the horizon. The rover scanned the plains, sky, and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.
Sol 1045: Opportunity acquired images of the grinding bit on the rock abrasion tool and microscopic images of Santa Catarina. The rover acquired elemental data about Santa Catarina using the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer.
Sol 1046: Using all 13 filters of the panoramic camera along with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, Opportunity studied nearby cobbles nicknamed "Joacaba," "Tubarao," and "Igreja." The rover studied Santa Catarina using the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer.
Sol 1047: Opportunity conducted diagnostic tests of the rock abrasion tool, analyzed the iron composition of Santa Catarina using the M?ssbauer spectrometer, and used all 13 filters of the panoramic camera along with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer to acquire data from nearby cobbles nicknamed "Florianopolis" and "Xanxer." The rover conducted a communications demonstration for the Phoenix mission.
Sol 1048 (Jan. 4, 2006): Opportunity continued analysis of Santa Catarina with the M?ssbauer spectrometer and used all 13 filters of the panoramic camera along with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer to study nearby cobbles dubbed "Videira" and "Chapeco."
As of sol 1047 (Jan. 3, 2006), Opportunity's total odometry remained at 9,790 meters (6.1 miles).