Mars Exploration Rover Update - July 14, 2006

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SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit to Get New Robotic Capabilities As Martian Winter Turns to Spring - sol 897-904, July 14, 2006:

This week Spirit greeted the 900th day, or sol, of exploration on Mars. Spirit is healthy and continues to make science observations despite winter power limitations. One file of a new software upgrade remains to be transmitted to the rover. Rover handlers plan to have Spirit start using the new software sometime in mid-August. The upgrade will enable the rover to process images more quickly and focus on a single target more efficiently and, when solar power levels increase again, demonstrate new robotic autonomous capabilities.

While studying images from the panoramic and hazard avoidance cameras to characterize dirt buildup on the rock abrasion tool, science and engineering team members discovered a possible small clod of dirt lodged in the device. They are considering running the rock abrasion tool backward in an attempt to dislodge it.

Solar array input was down to about 280 watt-hours per sol (a hundred watt-hours is the amount of electricity needed to light one 100-watt bulb for one hour).

Sol-by-sol summary:

Sol 897 (July 12, 2006): Spirit acquired panoramic camera images of a rock believed to be a meteorite known as "Zhong Shan."

Sol 898: Spirit acquired panoramic camera images of a dark rock known as "Orcadas."

Sol 899: Spirit acquired images with the panoramic camera for the "McMurdo panorama."

Sol 900: Plans called for Spirit to monitor atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera.

Sol 901: Plans called for continued analysis of the soil target known as "Halley" with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

Sol 902: Spirit was scheduled to collect more images for the McMurdo panorama.

Sol 903: Plans called for Spirit to recharge the batteries.

Sols 904 (July 19, 2006): Plans called for reverse operation of the rock abrasion tool to attempt to dislodge something that looks like a clod of dirt.


As of sol 898 (July 13, 2006), Spirit's total odometry was at 6,876.18 meters (4.27 miles).

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