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

SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit is "On Top of the World" - sol 67, Mar 12, 2004

Spirit woke up on sol 67, which ended at 1:48 a.m. PST March 12, 2004, to "On Top of the World" by the Carpenters. The song was fitting, as yestersols's drive put Spirit at the rim of "Bonneville" crater, but it took some additional maneuvering to get the rover perfectly placed for the 360-degree panoramic camera images it will take on upcoming sols.

Before beginning the sol 67 drive, Spirit completed an overnight alpha particle x-ray spectrometer integration and a couple of small panoramic camera shots of its surroundings.

Then the rover traveled 13 meters (42.7 feet) in a direct drive around some obstacles followed by a 1.4-meter (4.6 feet) automatic navigation drive. Spirit spent the afternoon using the mini thermal emission spectrometer to look at targets that will be analyzed more fully on sol 67, and then driving 0.9 meters (3 feet) forward to be able to access that area with the arm tomorrow.

Spirit put a total of 24.8 meters (81.4 feet) on the odometer today, partly due to some back and forth maneuvering it had to do to ensure a safe path. The final location has proven to be just right, and Spirit will stay put for a couple sols while it continues to investigate "Bonneville" crater.

Before the day was over, Spirit looked at the sun for an attitude update and then took front hazard avoidance camera images of the arm work volume, and a small navigation panorama of the crater. The rover also completed some mini thermal emission spectrometer analysis of the far side of the crater and finished the day with some panoramic camera images of the sunset.

On sol 68, which will end at 2:28 a.m. PST March 13, 2004, Spirit will begin a two-sol panoramic camera session and complete selected mini thermal emission spectrometer observations. The rover will also begin a very long M?ssbauer integration on a soil target.

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Aiming for Shark's Tooth - sol 47, Mar 12, 2004

On sol 47, which ended at 2:10 p.m. PST on Friday March 12, Opportunity awoke to "No Particular Place to Go" by Chuck Berry in recognition of the stay at "Berry Bowl." Engineers also played "That's Amore" by Dean Martin in honor of the Phobos moon's transit across the sky.

Opportunity finished remnants of activities from the past sol's research at "Berry Bowl." The sol started with the hazard avoidance camera taking a picture of the "Berry Bowl" area as a context picture. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer then performed some "sky stares" of the atmosphere. At 11:30 Local Solar Time, the robotic arm started moving. It picked up the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and moved to a new location nearby, then switched to the M?ssbauer spectrometer. Both spectrometers are searching for clues about the chemical composition of the mysterious "blueberries."

Later, Opportunity took panoramic camera images of the suite magnet on the rover itself, which is collecting atmospheric dust samples to understand why the martian dust is so magnetic. The panoramic camera also took images of a target dubbed "Fool's Silver," which contains an interesting angular feature in the outcrop.

After all the morning's hard work, Opportunity took a short siesta to rest and recharge. Opportunity reawakened a few hours later to take more images of the atmosphere with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera. Those were taken in the same locations as the morning measurements to compare the atmospheric data throughout the sol.

At 15:40 Local Solar Time, Opportunity took about a dozen images of the Sun to catch the eclipse by the martian moon, Phobos. Opportunity once again shut down for a nap and woke up at 4:53 Local Solar Time, sol 48, for a tool change and a communications session with the Odyssey orbiter. While the rover was awake for the Odyssey pass, the rover heated up the robotic arm, which had chilled to almost -80 degrees Celsius (-112 degrees Fahrenheit). The motors cannot move at that frigid temperature, so the rover arm heated for 32 minutes to surpass the operational temperature of 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). As the rover arm quickly cooled, the heat lasted long enough (5 minutes) for the arm to twist its wrist and change instruments from the M?ssbauer spectrometer back to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

The rest of the plan for sol 48, which will end at 2:49 p.m. PST on Saturday, March 13, is to perform quite a few complicated maneuvers. Opportunity plans to brush an area with the rock abrasion tool, analyze the brushed area with the spectrometers, then drive 10 meters (33 feet) along the slippery slopes of the outcrop to "Shark's Tooth" in "Shoemaker's Patio."

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Last Updated: 15 Mar 2004