Mars Exploration Rover Update - August 18, 2004
OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Power Boost for Opportunity - sol 196-199, August 18, 2004
Opportunity is healthy and continuing to investigate a rock outcrop dubbed "Axel Heiberg" on the southern slope of "Endurance Crater." The rover's solar energy input has risen above 610 watt-hours the last few sols, which is more than it has experienced since about sol 100. The additional power may be the result of less hazy skies.
On sol 196, Opportunity completed an overnight reading with the M�ssbauer spectrometer on a hole into Axel Heiberg where the rock abrasion tool gnawed off the rock's outer surface on sol 193. Then the rover bumped back about half a meter (about 1.6 feet) to position itself for reaching an interesting vein feature. After the bump, Opportunity made observations of the abraded hole with its miniature thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera data to complete the remote sensing of that target.
Opportunity completed a microscopic imager mosaic of the vein feature called "Sermilik" on sol 197. The rover also acquired panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer data of sand spots to identify future targets for the rover arm. Overnight deep sleep was used to conserve power.
On sol 198, Opportunity awoke from deep sleep and used heaters to warm the panoramic camera mast assembly in preparation for morning cloud, sky and ground imaging and miniature thermal emission spectrometer observations. It made a daytime M�ssbauer inspection of a 3-centimeter (1.2-inch) chuck of vein material that was apparently broken off from the vein when the rover backed up. This was followed by a tool change to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer before sleep. Opportunity awoke for an early morning Mars Odyssey communications pass and turned on the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer for a nearly 6-hour integration.
Opportunity's planned abrading of a target called "Jiffypop" failed on sol 199. The preparatory seek-scan process successfully found the rock surface, but a motor stall prevented any further activity by the rock abrasion tool. Planned microscopic imager pictures of the target area and remote sensing were acquired successfully.
The stall of the rock abrasion tool on sol 199 is under investigation. Sol 200 activities will focus on diagnostic imaging and motor actuations to confirm the health of the tool. Another issue being reviewed is the failure of the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer doors to close fully on sol 199. This has been seen several times before, and in this case the rover team did not have positive confirmation that doors were properly latched open. Plans for sol 200, ending Aug. 16, include door opening and closing on the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.
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