Mars Exploration Rover Update - September 16, 2005
SPIRIT UPDATE: Testing Command Communications - sol 599-605, Sept 16,
Spirit has continued observations on the top of "Husband Hill," using the microscopic imager, alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and Moessbauer spectrometer on a target informally called "Irvine." Spirit has also completed three complicated drive sols. It is in position for doing work with the tools on the robotic arm in upcoming sols. During two nights, Spirit observed the moons Phobos and Deimos.
Also this week, Spirit performed two tests to validate the ability to send commands to Spirit via the Mars Odyssey orbiter through the rover's UHF (ultra-high frequency) radio. Downlink through the Odyssey UHF relay has been the principal means for getting data from Spirit. The new tests are for communicating the other direction: sending commands to Spirit via Odyssey UHF relay. The first test was similar to a 1-sol plan; the second contained multiple sequences that simulated a more complicated 3-sol planning day. The team sent old sequences and confirmed that the commands made it onboard the rover, and then the team deleted the files. The first test was successful, and the team is anticipating data to come down from the second test.
Sol-by-sol summaries:
Sol 599 (Sept. 9, 2005): Spirit approached the target Irvine on the feature "Putative Dike." The drive was complex because the rover planners needed to make sure Spirit stayed out of the mast occlusion (or stop) zone.
Sol 600: Spirit deployed the robotic arm, took pictures with the microscopic imager, then placed the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on a target. Spirit switched to the Moessbauer spectrometer at 10:30 in the morning, Mars local solar time, for continued observations.
Sol 601: Spirit performed a 24-hour Moessbauer spectrometer integration and made overnight observations of Phobos and Deimos.
Sol 602: Spirit performed another 24-hour Moessbauer spectrometer integration.
Sol 603: Spirit drove 16 meters (53 feet), followed by a 4-meter (13-foot) drive using autonomous navigation. Spirit then performed an Odyssey UHF (ultra-high frequency) relay test.
Sol 604: Spirit performed targeted remote sensing operations.
Sol 605: Spirit successfully completed a complicated drive, including scuffing and turning. This was followed by another UHF (ultra-high frequency) test, and then overnight miniature thermal emission spectrometer observations. Spirit also entered restricted sols. (Restricted sols occur when the timing of the communications pass from the Odyssey orbiter is too late in the Earth day to gather vital location and health information about the rover after it executed recent commands. The team back on Earth must wait until the next day to find out where and how the rover is.)
As of the end of sol 605, (Sept. 15, 2005), Spirit has driven 4,935 meters (3.07 miles).
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