Mars Exploration Rover Update - July 2, 2004
SPIRIT UPDATE: Moving On From 'Pot-of-Gold' - sol 171-174, July 02, 2004
On sol 171, Spirit continued its investigation in "Hank's Hollow" and the rock target "Pot-of-Gold." The rover successfully completed observations of the abraded area with the microscopic imager and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.
On sol 172, Spirit looked at the sky with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera. The rover also acquired some thermal inertia observations of nearby soil with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Spirit finished up its Pot-of-Gold observations with some microscopic images and a final long Mossbauer integration of the abraded surface.
On sol 173, Spirit performed atmospheric observations with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera. The rover also took some panoramic camera context images for the sol 172 thermal inertia observations. The rover finished the day's work by stowing the instrument deployment device and doing a "bump-back" to the "Bread Box" target. One last panoramic camera shot of Pot-of-Gold ended up a bit overexposed and will need to be retaken.
On sol 174, Spirit began the day acquiring atmospheric observations with the mini thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera. The rover then imaged the drive direction with the panoramic camera. Last but not least, Spirit took a look at a disturbed area of soil called "Bright Tracks" with the panoramic camera to help scientists learn more about the very bright material found here.
During the next 15 or more sols, rover planners will perform a "3,000 meter tune-up" on Spirit before the rover embarks on a climb up the hills.
The tune-up will include a number of elements including:
A front hazard avoidance camera calibration where a series of robotic arm poses and hazard avoidance camera images will be used to refine the rover planners' ability to target objects using stereo hazard avoidance camera images. The team is currently experiencing a 2 to 3 centimeter (slightly less or slightly greater than an inch) error in predicted versus actual target locations in the vicinity of the instrument deployment device.
Spirit's first deep sleep. Deep sleep is a mode that leaves the rover completely un-powered overnight, saving the energy that would be spent powering rover electronics and survival heaters that are normally on even when the rover is napping. Spirit needs deep sleep to save energy in the coming sols. Since deep sleep is potentially harmful to the mini thermal emission spectrometer instrument because its survival heater is not powered, rover planners have identified two observations that must be completed before the first deep sleep is attempted. Opportunity has been using deep sleep for several weeks now.
A right front wheel lubrication. Spirit's right front wheel continues to draw roughly twice the current of the other wheels. Spirit will drive to "Engineering Flats," a relatively flat, hazard-free area where rover planners will execute a series of diagnostic drive tests and heating sequences over the course of four to five sols. The intent is that the heating will re-flow the lubricants in this actuator, correcting the problem. Engineering Flats is roughly 7 meters (nearly 23 feet) from Spirit's current location.
Engineering tests of visual odometry. Visual odometry uses navigation camera images taken during a drive to determine the rover's location. This rover feature has been improved and is ready for trial runs now. Rover planners would like to use it on a regular basis to get Spirit where they want it to go more quickly. Due to slippage, Spirit sometimes needs two or more sols to make a short approach when using the blind drive technique.
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