Mars Exploration Rover Update - August 9, 2004

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OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Opportunity Turns to Talk to Odyssey - sol 188-189,
August 09, 2004
Sol 188 was devoted to finishing an examination of a target patch called
"Tuktoyuktuk" where the rover's rock abrasion tool had ground the
surface coating off of a rock called "Inuvik." Opportunity then drove
partly up-slope and partly cross-slope as both a mobility test and the
start of a traverse to the next target. It slipped down-slope about as
much as expected, a good result. The rover's current terrain consists of
rocky plates lightly covered with sand and soil, plus some deeper sandy
patches between the plates. The sandy patches result in more slip and
sometimes cause the vehicle to yaw a little (as more slip on one side of
the vehicle than the other causes it to turn). The overall tilt of the
rover is about 18 degrees.
On sol 189 the rover drove about 4 meters (13 feet) eastward across the
inner slope of the crater. The drive went well despite substantial
down-slope slip. Slippage averaged about 33 percent, with a peak of
about 56 percent on one half-meter (1.6-foot) drive segment, but the
rover team expected that and compensated in advance for it. The team
then asked the rover to conduct a series of turns in place during the
communications relay pass with the Mars Odyssey orbiter to optimize the
communications link. The idea was to keep Odyssey in the sweet spot of
the rover's ultra-high-frequency antenna pattern as the orbiter swept
across the sky. The total data return was about 135 megabits. The best
possible return predicted by models if the rover had just sat in one
orientation was about 115 megabits.
The next target the scientists would like the rover to approach, "Axel
Heiberg," is a rocky outcrop about 18 meters (59 feet) away to the east
and a bit deeper in the crater.
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Ron
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