Mars Exploration Rover Update #2 - August 31, 2004
OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: 'Look Mom, no pebble!' - sol 209-210, August 31, 2004
Sol 209 activities for Opportunity focused on recharging its batteries and downlinking data through both an afternoon communications link with NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter and an overnight Odyssey pass (early morning sol 210). The rover also made some remote sensing observations. The sol 209 plan was constructed without benefit of the sol 208 downlink (due to the restricted nature of the planning at this point in the cycle of Mars days progressing relative to Earth days). For that reason, activities were limited to remote sensing, which did not depend upon knowledge of the exact position of the rover. All went fine, and about 165 megabits of data were returned through relay by Odyssey.
On sol 210, which ended on Aug. 27, the rover was commanded to image the rock abrasion tool in a variety of positions to get better knowledge of a pebble that appeared to be jammed between rotors in an earlier image. Then the rover used its microscopic imager to survey several spots on a rock called "Escher." In addition, it took panoramic camera images for assembling into a mosaic of the dune field at the bottom of "Endurance Crater." The diagnostic images of the rock abrasion tool brought good news with the revelation that there is no longer a pebble jammed between the grind bits! Apparently, sometime after the last previous images of the tool were acquired on sol 200, the pebble fell out, perhaps due to thermal cycling or vehicle motion. The team will proceed next with diagnostic actions to confirm that the abrasion tool is functioning normally again. Those activities are planned for sol 212.
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