Mars Exploration Rover Update - March 7, 2005

http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/status.html
SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Perched at 'Larry's Lookout' - sol 408-415, March 07, 2005
Spirit's focus on sols 408 through 412 was the spectacular panorama from "Larry's Lookout." After completing that 4-sol effort, Spirit rolled to a nearby rock target called "Watchtower" and began examining it with tools on the robotic arm.
Spirit is in excellent health. Skies are clearing of dust and Spirit's solar panels are angled at a high northerly-tilt. So, as Mars approaches the spring season, Spirit has had ample power and a full battery at the start of each recent sol. Flash memory is also in good shape despite the large panorama acquired, thanks to good downlinks and data management.
Sol-by-sol summaries:
On sol 408, Spirit was unable to uplink due to a communications transmitter failure.
Sol 409 was a repeat plan of sol 408, and Spirit drove 2.7 meters (8.9 feet) to Larry's Lookout.
Sols 410 and 411 were the first of four days of using the panoramic camera to acquire frames for a panorama from Larry's Lookout.
On sols 412 and 413, Spirit continued acquiring the panorama and also made observations with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.
On sol 414, Spirit moved slightly to put Watchtower into the work volume for the robotic arm.
On sol 415, Spirit brushed the dust off of an area on Watchtower with the rock abrasion tool and started an overnight integration with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.
Sol 415 ended on March 4, 2005.
Spirit's current total odometry is 4,161 meters (2.59 miles).
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snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net wrote:

Whats a "sol"?
LB
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A day to an alien on another planet.
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A day on Mars.
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it's short for "solar day". The day's arent the same length as they are here on earth, so to keep it simple, they just call them solar days. One sunrise to another sunrise is one "sol".
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If that is true, then a sol is a little longer than one rotation. Because every sunrise has to catch up with the planet's revolution (around the star) distance.
Maybe that is why our sol is 24 hours, but a rotation is only 23 hours and 56 minutes. Assuming they measured this correctly, of course.
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Mark Earnest wrote:

The martian "day" is 1.026 earth days. This equates to ~12 minutes a week difference. Not alot, but spready over the 400+ days we're reaching now, it can be quite a significant difference.
The most major reason fo the difference in a day and a sol is the fact that the to sun up times do not coincide, and are always changing. A matter of schedualing for the scientists on duty comes into play here. Thier shifts wold be all out of whack if they just followed earth days. One day you may be getting up at 8am for work, and 3am the next. So al the scientists run on mars time for a more steady work flow and daily routine.
--Andy P
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JPL had special digital watches made (all you really need do is change the quartz crystal to one of a lower frequency) for Martian time to give to those scientists. So they could keep track of the time on Mars' daytime and nighttime.
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robert casey wrote:

Thanks to all that replied <bg>!!!
LB
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A Martian Sol is about 40 minutes longer than an Earth Sol. The scientists stagger their work days to follow the Sols, which causes some difficulty in their personal life as captured int he PBS Nova documentaries. They like to be in the lab when the sunrise wakes up the rover. Then the Sol's activity program is transmitted. Confirmations take at least 30 minutes round trip at the speed-of-light, so maybe they get to interact with the rovers about once a daylight hour.
I presume the funding for Rovers will be extended beyond its March 31 termination. There have already been two six-month extensions since the original 90-day funding. It looks like Spirit could last a few more months, and Opportunity shows little degradation at all.
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Check out the Sol 420 raw panoramics from Larry's Lookout. A perfectly valid capture of a traversing moon:
http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/all/spirit_p420.html
kk
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