Mars Exploration Rover Update - August 23, 2004

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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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Ron
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