Mars Exploration Rover Update - September 29, 2005

http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/status.html
SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Reaches True Summit - sol 614-619, Sept 29, 2005:
Spirit is healthy and has provided a spectacular view from the top of "Husband Hill." The rover has acquired numerous panoramas from both the navigation camera and panoramic camera. Spirit took coordinated observations with the panoramic camera and the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and observed the moons Phobos and Deimos at night. Spirit has reached the true summit, which is in the eastern portion of the nearly level hilltop crest that Spirit reached in late August. Plans are to drive to a good imaging location. From the new location, Spirit will acquire a panorama of the plains and valleys below.
Sol-by-sol summaries:
Sol 614 (Sept. 24, 2005): Spirit took a panorama of "Tennessee Valley," and performed targeted remote sensing and atmospheric science. A planned Moessbauer spectrometer reading was not completed, due to a sequencing error.
Sol 615: Spirit used the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on the compositional calibration target and took a picture of the compositional calibration target with the microscopic imager. The compositional calibration target provides an independent, external reference source for calibrating the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and Moessbauer spectrometer. Both instruments also have their own internal calibration reference targets. The compositional calibration target is made of a piece of magnetite rock from Earth, bonded to an aluminum base plate and covered by a protective coating that the Moessbauer spectrometer cannot detect. On sol 615, Spirit also performed targeted remote sensing.
Sol 616: Spirit drove about 10 meters (33 feet) towards the true summit and observed Phobos and Deimos at night.
Sol 617: Spirit took pictures from "Position 2" for a stereo panorama. Spirit also observed Phobos and Deimos at night.
Sol 618: Spirit drove 14 meters (46 feet) closer to "True Summit." Mid-drive, Spirit stopped to take a picture of a target called "Hillary." The informal name is in honor of Edmund Hillary. Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to climb to the top of Mount Everest. They reached the summit on May 29, 1953. That summit, at 8,850 meters (29,035 feet) above sea level, is the highest place on Earth. The summit of Husband Hill is 106 meters (about 348 feet) above the Spirit landing site.
Sol 619: The plan is for Spirit to drive about 3.5 meters (11.5 feet) to the summit imaging location. Once at the new location, the plan is for Spirit to take a 360-degree panorama using the navigation camera.
As of the end of sol 618, (Sept. 29, 2005), Spirit has driven 4,973 meters (3.09 miles).
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On 30 Sep 2005 08:46:34 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net wrote:

I'm constantly amazed by how enduring those little robots are. 618 sols, who would ever have guessed, and yet I wonder how many people are even aware they're still up there boldly going where no robot has boldly gone before. We should have a national day of celebration in their honour. Spirit and Opportunity - I salute you!
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Hi Can someone tell me why the rovers were not fitted with video cameras so that we could see the dust storms, sunrise, sunsets, rock grinding experiments, movement of the robots, panoramic views etc. in real time instead of just still pictures. These could be beamed back to earth either live or recorded and would vastly increase the publics interest in this incredible project. If the technology to do this was used in 1969 for the first moon walk and subsequent apollo missions, why wasn't live videos used for this fanstastic exploration of mars. Do nasa intend to install video cameras on any future missions to explore the planets? A video on board the cassini / hygens mission to saturn would have been incredible to see as the landing probe broke through the thick clouds of titan. To watch 'live' as the probe approached the surface and touched down on this strange alien moon world would probably have had the whole world enthralled and glued to their tv sets. Surely, Increased public interest would make it easier to get increased funding for future missions to the planets including manned missions etc etc. I think these two robots on mars are a great example of humankind's spirit of exploration, but missed an excellent opportunity to get the general public more involved and interested by using the 'wow' factor and transmitting awe inspiring live video footage back from another world.
Tim Polmear wrote:

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On a sunny day (1 Oct 2005 06:15:25 -0700) it happened snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com

Bandwidth.
I was around when those pictures of 'small step for man' came in. You should have seen the resolution! (lack of it). Also the sun got in the camera and that was it. IIRC that camera used a rotating color wheel, so motion sucked anyways. The mars rovers give really high resolution incredible photographs, a lot more valuable for science.

Any movie is a sequency of picture, although encoding may ad some interpolated stuff... Better have a few high res pics then a lot of thse that show nothing in detail. You can always add the high res pics together to make a movie.
To watch 'live' as the probe

There is already plenty of interest, NASA does not need more money. they need engineers with a vision. They need a Von Braun. Good thing is a technical person now heads NASA. Bad thing is NASA[s targets] seem to change every election.... Bad thing is they waisted all their time since moonlandings on the ISS and not on a nuclear powered mission to mars. Fun thing is that you payed for it.
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Because there actually isn't a whole lot that *moves* on the Martian surface, and the MERs have nowhere near the data storage and transmission capacity for even compressed movies, never mind real-time video.
Bear in mind that the rovers are *not* in touch with Earth anywhere near full-time. Most of the pictures that come back are relayed via one of the Mars orbiters -- stored on the rover until there's an orbiter pass, then stored on the orbiter until DSN talks to it. Running the rovers isn't like a video game; it's much more like playing chess by email. You send up a move, and half a day or a day later you see the result.

Because in 1969, the distances were much shorter and the resources devoted to communications (mass and power on board, and dish time on the ground) were much greater.

NASA is interested in the idea, but the technical challenges of getting that much data capacity at affordable cost are severe.
--
spsystems.net is temporarily off the air; | Henry Spencer
mail to henry at zoo.utoronto.ca instead. | snipped-for-privacy@spsystems.net
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Simple explanation? Bandwidth.
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On 1 Oct 2005 06:15:25 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

see: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release 04-290
I have to agree, but the bandwidth just wasn't available this time. However, for "Son of MER" the Mars Science Laboratory, some video capability will exist thanks to the relay bandwidth provided by the recon orbiter already on its way. Admittedly not much moves around up there (apart from the Hopping Rocks and the Dancing Sand, of course ;<)
But I for one (for two, I mean) would like to watch the dust devils meander on a lazy Martian afternoon. Hey, I'd like to LISTEN as well! What do those pink tornadoes sound like? I hope somebody sneaks a microphone onto MSL. We could also hear the LGMs who ride around on top of the camera mast giggling!
Cheers
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