Mars Exploration Rover Update - December 22, 2005

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MER Mission Update by Steve Squyres
December 23, 2005
Things have been going well at Gusev. We've spent most of the past week
looking at a rock right next to Comanche that we call Comanche Spur.
Like everything we've seen since we've descended off of Haskin Ridge,
Comanche Spur has undergone very little alteration and has a lot of
olivine in it. But the composition is different from what we saw at
Seminole and Algonquin, so we seem to have yet another rock type at
Gusev.
With the Comanche campaign wrapping up, it was decision time...
Allegeny
Ridge or El Dorado? We had a long meeting about that at mid-week, and
the consensus decision was to head for El Dorado. We should begin the
drive on about Sol 704, and we're hoping it will go quickly. Expect
Spirit to do a lot of driving and (except at El Dorado) not much IDD
work in the weeks ahead.
Over at Meridiani, we have now gotten pretty good at operating our
balky
arm without problems. And we've been at Olympia long enough now that
it's probably now the best-imaged place on the entire planet. With all
that imaging we've identified several other nearby targets that we'd
really like to take a look at. Unfortunately, though, it's still going
to be a little while before we can get moving again. While we know how
to work the arm, we're still figuring out the best way to stow it. We
no
longer want to stow it under the front of the vehicle, since a complete
motor failure there would incapacitate the arm permanently. Instead,
we're looking at "stowing" it somewhere out in front of the vehicle.
That sounds easy, but it's something really new... we've never tried
driving with the arm deployed, on either planet, so we've got to be
very
careful. Being very careful means we have to do a lot of calculations
and tests on Earth before we're ready to try it on Mars. So it'll still
be a little while before we're ready to drive anywhere.
And a final note: If you want to know about our take on water at
Meridiani, there is one good place to read about it... the papers that
we recently published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters. Check
them
out.
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baalke
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