Mars Exploration Rover Update - August 31, 2004
SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit has been etching into 'Ebenezer' - sol 219-231,
August 31, 2004
During sols 219 through 223, Spirit completed science observations at the "Clovis" rock outcrop. So Spirit packed up and slowly moved on. Winter is approaching and temperatures continue to drop. Power is always a major concern as available energy fluctuates between 300 and 400 watt-hours per sol, but Spirit continues the quest, climbing ever higher into the Columbia Hills. Spirit has climbed more than 13 meters (43 feet) in elevation from Hank's Hollow, at the base of Columbia Hills, but currently is at an elevation of 37 meters (121 feet) above its landing site on the plains of Gusev Crater!
On sol 224, operators became concerned that Spirit's batteries might be entering a very low state of charge, so Spirit shut down to charge the batteries.
Sol 225 was truly a mega-activity sol. Spirit awoke at 11:20 a.m., Gusev local solar time and stayed awake well past the afternoon communication session with NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter without taking a nap. Spirit hasn't done that in a long time. The rover extended its arm and used its rock abrasion tool to brush seven circular patches on Clovis. After the first five brushings, the arm was moved out of the way and an image was taken of the circles. These five brushing circles resemble the Olympic rings.
After completing the brushing, Spirit performed a 30-minute reading with its alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, imaged the seven rings using its microscopic imager, stowed its arm and drove one meter (three feet) backward, farther off of the Clovis outcrop. Spirit's day was far from over. The rover performed post-drive observations with its navigation camera, observations with its miniature thermal emission spectrometer concurrent with the afternoon Odyssey pass, and panoramic camera observations before shutting down. Another gold medal performance for Spirit!
Total odometry after sol 225 was 3,605 meters (2.24 miles), a Mars record.
From sols 226-229, Spirit stopped at a rock dubbed "Ebenezer" for several sols of intense science. Ebenezer is roughly 8 meters (26 feet) from Clovis.
While at Ebenezer, Spirit was facing south of east, with its nose pitched up 21 degrees. This orientation was very favorable from a power perspective since the sun tracks to the north. Spirit's daily solar energy input increased about 10 percent as a result. Spirit also had a great view of the Gusev plain from this location.
On Sol 230, Spirit used the rock abrasion tool to brush a target on Ebenezer and took an overnight alpha particle X-ray spectrometer reading on the brushed area. On Sol 231, which ended on Aug. 27, the abrasion tool ground for two hours into the same spot it had brushed. An alpha particle X-ray spectrometer reading in the resulting hole began the morning of Sol 232.
Over the next few sols, the plan is for Spirit to drive to its next target, which is yet to be determined.
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