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Mars Rovers Update
Mars Rovers Update
14 Mar 2004
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Opportunity Status for sol 48
Shark Ahead
posted Mar. 14, 2 pm PST

NASA's Opportunity finished inspecting the "Berry Bowl" site and drove 10 meters (33 feet) toward a new target during its 48th sol on Mars, which ended at 2:50 p.m. Saturday, PST.

The rover used all four tools on its arm during the morning, ending with a brushing by the rock abrasion tool, then post-brushing examinations with the microscope and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. This closed out three sols of work at "Berry Bowl" to compare the composition of targets with and without groups of the BB-sized spherules believed to have formed while the local environment was wet.

Opportunity then stowed its arm and drove toward an area dubbed "Shoemaker's Patio" at the southwestern end of the outcrop the rover has been studying since it arrived on Mars. This informal name pays tribute to the late geologist Dr. Eugene Shoemaker of the U.S. Geological Survey. Opportunity's more specific target is a rock called "Shark's Tooth" at the near edge of the patio. The drive did not quite put that target within reach of the robot arm. Activities of the sol also included atmospheric observations with the panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer, plus post-drive imaging with the navigation camera.

Mission controllers at JPL chose John Williams' "Jaws: Main Title and Fist Victim" as the wake-up song for sol 48.

Plans for sol 49, ending at 3:28 p.m. Sunday PST, call for finishing the approach to "Shark's Tooth" after a morning examination of the ground right in front of the rover. Inspection of "Shark's Tooth" with tools on the robotic arm is planned for sol 50.

Spirit Status for sol 69
New Panorama on Board
posted Mar. 14, 2 pm PST

During its 69th sol on Mars, ending at 3:07 a.m. Sunday, PST, NASA's Spirit finished shooting frames with its panoramic camera for a full 360-degree color view of the surroundings visible from the crater rim where the rover is perched. Once the panorama frames are transmitted to Earth, scientists will use them and information from Spirit's miniature thermal emission spectrometer to assess the structures and composition of the crater interior and other surfaces in view.

Spirit did not move from its vantage point on the south rim of the crater nicknamed "Bonneville." An extra downlink session was added via relay by NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter to accelerate getting the panoramic imaging data to Earth. The total amount of data received from Spirit during the sol through relays and direct-to-Earth transmission was 225 megabits.

In the martian afternoon, Spirit added a set of observations with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer in coordination with overhead passage of NASA's Mars Global Surveyor orbiter, which carries a similar spectrometer looking down. Events of the sol also included two camera sessions requested by engineers. The first was to get high-resolution images of Spirit's heat shield on the northern rim of "Bonneville." The other was to photograph wheel tracks to help rover mobility specialists assess slippage. For sol 69's wake-up music, the team spun John Lennon's "Watching the Wheels."

Plans for sol 70, ending at 3:47 a.m. Monday, PST, feature more remote sensing from the rover's current location, before a drive along the rim begins on sol 71.

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Last Updated: 15 Mar 2004