17 years ago
OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Edging Out of 'Endurance' - sol 292-298,
December 06, 2004
Opportunity has completed its super-high-resolution imaging and other
remote sensing operations from the base of "Burns Cliff," collecting
more than 985 megabits of telemetry. Due to the large number of
observations, the data management team has been working hard to manage
available memory. Opportunity has now begun its journey out of
"Endurance Crater." While in the crater, Opportunity has experienced
drive slippage of up to 100 percent and tilts as high as 31.05 degrees.
The rover was pushed to its traverse limits, but continued to perform
all that was asked of it. Opportunity remains in excellent health.
power is nearly as high now as it was at the beginning of the mission.
Having made its closest approach to Burns Cliff, Opportunity continued
its remote science campaign on sol 292. In the morning and early
afternoon, the rover captured a portion of a color panorama plus images
of targets called "Cushion" and "Bartlett." During these observations,
Opportunity applied some of its excess energy to engage in an hour-long
direct-to-earth communications session, downlinking an extra 10
or so. Waking up the next morning at 7:18 local solar time, the rover
heated cameras and actuators in advance of looking for clouds.
Sols 293 through 295 were planned together as a three-sol plan,
continuing the panorama. Other observations included navigation camera
imaging to fill holes in prior image coverage, panoramic camera
atmospheric imaging while the Sun was high in the sky, and miniature
thermal emission spectrometer imaging of targets "Ebony," "Ivory," and
Cushion. Another direct-to-earth communications session was scheduled
for midday on sol 293. On sols 293 and 294, the rover finished the
remote science campaign, completing the panorama.
On sol 295, for the first time in 10 sols, Opportunity was on the move,
beginning a trek out of Endurance Crater. The planned traverse had two
parts, with the second leg to be driven only if the rover was on track
after the first leg. Opportunity drove 3.6 meters (about 12 feet),
determined that it was sufficiently close to a designated waypoint, and
then continued for another 3.6 meters (about 12 feet). At the
of the drive, the rover updated information about its attitude and
Opportunity continued its westward journey on sol 296, performing an
11-meter (36-foot) drive on flat rocky terrain that provides good
traction for the rover. The drive succeeded as planned, leaving the
vehicle perfectly in the middle of its intended path. Opportunity then
performed two hours of post-drive observations. At this point, there
appeared to be a possible shortcut out of the crater, just about 13
meters (about 43 feet) in front of Opportunity. If traversable, this
early egress chute could shorten the vehicle's exit route by more than
30 meters (about 98 feet) and many sols. In response to this
possibility, the team planned further investigation of the chute area.
Sols 297 through 299 and sols 300 through 302 were planned as two
consecutive three-sol plans due to the Thanksgiving holiday on Earth.
Commands for sols 297, 298 and 299 were uplinked on Tuesday (Nov. 23)
and commands for sols 300 through 302 were uplinked the next day. The
planning team went above and beyond to deliver six sol plans in two
The plan for sol 297 included a drive west for about 13 meters (43
to a relativity flat area. This location would afford a good view of
possible egress chute and allow the robotic arm to be deployed so the
Mossbauer spectrometer could be placed on the filter magnet and perform
four sols of data collection. The drive stopped early because
Opportunity slipped more than anticipated and missed an intermediate
waypoint. The drive covered 8.6 meters (about 28 feet). However,
after the drive allowed a detailed analysis of the possible shortcut.
To make an early exit, Opportunity would have had to cross terrain
sloping 28 degrees. The opening of the chute is 1.14 meters (about 4
feet) wide, and there appears to be tall rock outcropping very close to
the opening. On the route to the originally planned exit path at
"Keratepe," where Opportunity entered the crater six months ago, the
average slope is only 22 degrees and there are no large obstacles to
avoid. So the decision was made to skip the shortcut and continue
Total odometry after sol 297 is 1736.22 meters (1.08 miles).