Mars Rover Updates
6 May 2009
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
SPIRIT UPDATE: Another Power Boost, But Difficult Driving - sols 1893-1899, April 30 - May 6, 2009:
Spirit has now completed 19 sols of operation without any recurrence of the anomalous behavior that happened between Sol 1872 (April 9, 2009) and Sol 1881 (April 18, 2009). In addition to changes made to the rover's wake-sleep cycle and internal data logging, a new ability to detect "amnesia" events has been implemented. There is still no explanation for the previous anomalies, and the investigation is continuing.
Spirit is currently challenged by some very difficult terrain on the west side of Home Plate. The rover encountered very loose, soft material while driving south on its current path. So Spirit is now in the process of backing out. However, with only five driving wheels, its progress has been very difficult. Only centimeters have been achieved over the last four drive sols. It is expected that extracting Spirit from this location will require many more drive sols.
The good news is that Spirit experienced another solar array dust cleaning event. On Sol 1899 (May 6, 2009), energy production improved by more than 25 percent.
As of Sol 1899 (May 6, 2009), Spirit's solar array energy production is about 500 watt-hours, equivalent to what is needed to light a 100-watt bulb for five hours. Atmospheric opacity (tau) is at 0.821. The dust factor has improved substantially to 0.515, meaning that about 51.5 percent of sunlight hitting the solar array penetrates the layer of dust on the array. Spirit has more solar array energy than Opportunity for the first time in a very long time. Spirit's total odometry is 7,729.93 meters (4.80 miles).
OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Study an Outcrop While Resting a Wheel - sols 1872-1878, April 30 - May 6, 2009:
After moving around a troublesome ripple, on Sol 1872 (April 30, 2009) Opportunity performed a dog-leg maneuver heading south and achieving about 42 meters (138 feet) of distance. Electrical current levels in the right-front wheel have resumed larger-than-normal levels. The next drive, on Sol 1873 (May 1, 2009), was backward for about 50 meters (164 feet). The wheel currents remained elevated.
The project decided to take advantage of a contact-instruments science campaign to rest the actuator again. So on Sol 1877 (May 5, 2009), a short bump was performed to position the rover on exposed rock outcrop for the contact science. That work will proceed over the next several sols while the right front wheel actuator rests.
As of Sol 1877 (May 5, 2009), Opportunity's solar array energy production is 491 watt-hours, the atmospheric opacity (tau) remains around 0.811 and the dust factor is 0.609.
Opportunity's total odometry as of Sol 1878 (May 6, 2009) is 15,902.37 meters (9.88 miles).