Mars Exploration Rover Update - May 23, 2006

http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/status.html#opportunity
OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Checking Out 'Cheyenne' and Testing Relay for
Phoenix - sol 818-824, May 23, 2006:
Opportunity is healthy and continuing to make its way toward "Victoria Crater." Opportunity made 108 meters (354 feet) of progress in two sols of driving and was approximately 1,000 meters (just over half a mile) from Victoria Crater at the end of Sol 823.
Opportunity and NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter are conducting a set of demonstrations using the relay between the rover and orbiter to aid planning for communications during NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander mission, slated for launch in August 2007 and landing in May 2008.
Sol-by-sol summaries
Sol 818 (May 13, 2006): Opportunity investigated a rock target called "Cheyenne." It used the microscopic imager to examine the target, then used the rock abrasion tool's wire bristles to brush the target. After the brushing, the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer collected data about what elements make up the rock. The rover also took images with the panoramic camera for a mosaic view from the location reached by Sol 817's drive.
Sol 819: Opportunity took a post-brush microscopic stereo image mosaic of Cheyenne and evaluated the target's mineral composition with the Moessbauer spectrometer. The rover also took a panoramic-camera image of "Pueblo," an area of layered outcrop.
Sol 820: Opportunity used its Moessbauer spectrometer on Cheyenne, observed the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and used the navigation camera to check for clouds.
Sol 821: The rover took images of Cheyenne using the 13 filters of the panoramic camera. Then it drove about 36.64 meters (120 feet) and took pictures from the new location with the navigation camera and the panoramic camera. It also used the panoramic camera for observing the sky.
Sol 822: Opportunity used its navigation camera to do rearward-looking imaging and cloud scans. The rover also used its miniature thermal emission spectrometer to observe the sky and ground, and it worked with Odyssey to conduct the second part of the Phoenix relay test. (The first part was on Sol 812.)
Sol 823: Opportunity drove 71.2 meters (234 feet) then took images from the new location with the navigation camera and the panoramic camera. The rover also used the panoramic camera to evaluate the clarity of the atmosphere, monitor dust on the camera mast and observe the sky.
Sol 824 (May 19, 2006): On this sol, Opportunity took rearward-looking images with its navigation camera, observed the ground and sky with its miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and assessed atmospheric clarity with its panoramic camera. During the sol's relay pass with Odyssey, the rover used the miniature thermal emission spectrometer again to observe the sky and ground.
Opportunity's total odometry as of Sol 821 (May 16, 2006) was 7,829.99 meters (4.87 miles)
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On 23 May 2006 12:43:21 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net wrote:

thanks for posting these updates.
its a one stop shop for current status..
just talking out load, why wouldn't the phoenix program put the equipment on a "spirit" chassis and be able to drive around?
the wild success of the rovers is a strong argument to put roving capability on every lander going forward.
yeah, yeah. i know. the design is firm.
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Well, the fast answer is that the Mars Scout program -- Phoenix is the first of those -- probably couldn't afford it. The MERs were *not* cheap. As it is, Phoenix is economizing by using a lot of the hardware built for the canceled 2001 lander mission.

There is a lot to be said for mobility, even slow mobility, but it does cost you in mass, complexity, and dollars.
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