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Mars Rovers Update
Mars Rovers Update
24 Feb 2004
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Spirit Status for sol 51

Making Ground

posted Feb. 24, 2 pm PST

To inspire a morning "run" on sol 51, which ended at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, PST, Spirit woke up to Vangelis' "Chariots of Fire." The rover deployed its arm, took microscopic images of the soil in front of it and then proceeded toward its target, "Middle Ground." Spirit drove 30 meters (98.4 feet), breaking its own record for a single-sol traverse. Along the way, Spirit paused to image rocks on both sides of the drive path with its panoramic camera.

The auto-navigational software that drove the last 12 meters (39.4 feet) of the traverse to the "Middle Ground" target warned Spirit that the slope into the hollow that houses it was too steep (according to parameters set by rover engineers). Spirit then paced along the rim, looking for a safe way down. Unable to locate a secure path into the crater before the sol ended, Spirit ended up facing slightly west of north instead of northeast, as called for by the plan. This orientation will reduce the amount of data the rover can return (due to interference between the UHF antenna and items on the rover equipment deck), but it will be corrected in the coming sols.

As of today, Spirit has moved 183.25 meters (601.21 feet) and is now roughly 135 meters (442.91 feet) from its landing site, Columbia Memorial Station.

The intent for the next several sols will be to drive Spirit into "Middle Ground" and take a full panorama of the surrounding area to identify scientifically interesting rocks.

Opportunity Status for sol 30
A Beautiful Grind
posted Feb. 24, 11:15 am PST

On sol 30, which ended at 2:56 a.m. Tuesday, February 24, Opportunity performed its first rock abrasion tool operation on a rock target known as 'McKittrick Middle Rat' at the El Capitan site inside the crater. The tool shaved the rock over a period of two hours, grinding into a total depth of about 4 millimeters (.16 inches).

The auspicious day began with the song 'Rock'n Me' by Steve Miller and some miniature thermal emission spectrometer sky surveys and sky stares to study the atmosphere. After completing these activities, Opportunity took a short siesta to recharge its batteries. The rover has been doing a lot of science work at night, and the season on Mars is changing to winter, so the rover has less energy to work with than it did earlier in the mission. The martian days are getting shorter and the sun angle is not allowing either rover to power up the solar panels as much as in the past.

Opportunity woke up from its nap at 11:30 Local Solar Time on Mars to run through the series of commands required to retract the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and close its doors; take several microscopic images of another nearby rock abrasion tool target called 'Guadalupe;' flip the wrist; take a microscopic image of "McKittrick Middle Rat;" and place the rock abrasion tool on its target to run at 13:00 Local Solar Time.

After the abrasion tool was retracted, a series of microscopic images of the scene were taken, and the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer was successfully placed into the abrasion tool's hole late in the day.

Some additional panoramic camera, miniature thermal emission spectrometer readings, and hazard avoidance camera imagery was completed through the day.

The plan for sol 31, which will end at 3:36 a.m. Wednesday, February 25, is to continue getting long Moessbauer readings of the rock abrasion tool hole and to prepare the tool for more work again on sol 33 or 34.

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Last Updated: 25 Feb 2004