Mars Exploration Rover Update - August 23, 2004
SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit probes deeper into 'Clovis' outcrop - sol 209-218,
August 23, 2004
Spirit continued work over the past nine sols at a rock called "Clovis." The rover used its rock abrasion tool, microscopic imager, alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, and Mossbauer spectrometer to probe deeper into the history of this rock. Clovis is the most altered rock encountered by Spirit to date. It is part of a rock outcrop located on the "West Spur" of the "Columbia Hills," roughly 55 meters (180 feet) higher than Spirit's landing site about 3 kilometers (2 miles) away.
Spirit also successfully performed a couple of communications tests with the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter last week. The tests demonstrated the two spacecraft's ability to work together to transmit data collected by the rovers to Earth via the Mars Express communications relay. NASA's Mars Odyssey and Mars Global Surveyor orbiters also have this capability. More than 85 percent of the data from the rovers has been transmitted to Earth via the Odyssey orbiter.
On sol 209, Spirit experienced an unexpected reboot of the flight software. This incident was not a threat to the spacecraft. It is a known bug in the system that the rover team is working around.
On sol 210, Spirit drove up steep terrain to reach the exact spot on Clovis for work with the science instruments at the end of the robotic arm.
Between sols 211 and 216, Spirit completed an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer reading of a spot on Clovis called "Plano," which had been brushed off using the rock abrasion tool. Spirit then placed the rock abrasion tool on Plano again and drilled for 2.5 hours, creating a hole 8.9 millimeters (0.4 inch) deep, which is a new record! Spirit also continued a campaign to capture a color 360-degree panoramic camera image from this location. Spirit captured additional segments of the panorama on sols 217 and 218.
On sol 217, Spirit took microscopic images of the rock abrasion tool hole, and then placed the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer in the hole for an early morning observation.
On sol 218, Spirit placed the Mossbauer spectrometer in the rock abrasion tool hole and started a 48-hour observation. This is a longer than normal integration time, with a goal of resolving in more detail the makeup of this highly altered rock.
Spirit remains in excellent health.
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