Mars Exploration Rovers Update - August 23, 2007

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SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Tries to Coax Dust from Microscopic Imager -
sol 1288-1294, August 23, 2007:
For the first time since arriving on Mars in 2004, Spirit attempted to
remove dust from the microscopic imager in a "blobs away" campaign to
help the rover recover from a series of dust storms. The rover
remained
healthy as the Gusev Crater region continued to emerge from the recent
storms. Gloominess caused by suspended dust in the atmosphere remained
high but continued its downward trend. Dust falling out of the
atmosphere continued to accumulate on the solar panels, limiting power
gains from decreasing atmospheric opacity, known as Tau.
Between the rover's 1,288th and 1,291st Martian days, or sols, of
exploration (Aug. 18 and Aug. 21, 2007), Tau values went down from 3.2
to 3.0. During the same time, the accumulation of dust on the solar
arrays rose from 0.664 to 0.640 (a dust factor of 1.0 corresponds to a
perfectly clean array). Solar energy on sol 1291 (Aug. 21, 2007) was
313
watt-hours (100 watt-hours is what it takes to light a 100-watt bulb
for
1 hour).
The "blobs away" campaign, designed to dump dust from the surface of
the
microscopic imager lens, involved repeatedly taking images, opening
and
closing the dust cover, pointing the instrument slightly upward at an
angle of 20 degrees (with the hinge down to avoid dumping caked dust
on
the lens), and taking more images and opening and closing the dust
cover. Improved image quality after the procedure indicated that
either
some dust fell out or simply moved around. Dust decontamination
efforts
continue.
Spirit acquired microscopic images of mobile surface ripples and a
soil
target nicknamed "Norma Luker" on Sol 1291 (Aug. 21 2007). Despite
dust
motes on the lens, the images were useful to the science team.
Engineers were investigating the cause of a failed transmission on sol
1292 (Aug. 22, 2007), in which planned activities did not get on board
the spacecraft. Potential causes being investigated included an uplink
glitch or interference from a simultaneous uplink to the Mars
Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Spirit "drove" 42 centimeters (16 =BD inches) to a new position. Weekend
plans called for the first multi-meter drive toward the elevated
plateau
known as "Home Plate" as well as test transmissions to the European
Mars
Express orbiter in support of next year's arrival of the Phoenix
spacecraft now en route to Mars.
Martian weather reports as of Aug. 22 indicated a lull in afternoon
storm activity on the red planet, with no new storm activity visible
within a few thousand kilometers of either Mars rover site. Skies
remained dusty and were expected to continue to clear slowly.
Sol-by-sol summary:
In addition to daily direct-from-Earth uplinks over the rover's
high-gain antenna, relays to Earth at UHF frequences via the Odyssey
orbiter, surveys of the sky and ground with the miniature thermal
emission spectrometer, measurements of atmospheric opacity with the
panoramic and navigation cameras, and image acquisition with the front
and rear hazard avoidance cameras, Spirit completed the following
activities:
Sol 1288 (Aug. 18, 2007): Spirit studied Norma Luker with the
alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer.
Sol 1289: Spirit monitored dust accumulation on the rover mast,
collected data on the external calibration target with the miniature
thermal emission spectrometer, and completed a survey at high sun with
the panoramic camera.
Sol 1290: Spirit surveyed the horizon with the panoramic camera and
performed dust ejection maneuvers with the microscopic imager.
Sol 1291: Spirit took thumbnail images of the sky with the panoramic
camera, checked for drift (changes with time) in the miniature thermal
emission spectrometer, and acquired stereo microscopic images of Norma
Luker. The rover moved the microscopic imager and acquired stereo
microscopic views of surface ripples, stowed the robotic arm, and
acquired hazard avoidance camera images to document the stowing of the
arm.
Sol 1292: Plans for a day of remote sensing and acquisition of
full-color images of a target known as "Eileen Dean" failed to get on
board.
Sol 1293: Spirit checked for drift in the miniature thermal emission
spectrometer, acquired movie frames in search of dust devils using the
navigation camera, and took full-color images using all 13 filters of
the panoramic camera of a target known as "Gertrude Weise12." The
rover
acquired miniature thermal emission spectrometer data from the same
target before rolling a short distance away. After the short drive,
the
rover took images of its new location with the navigation camera and
hazard avoidance cameras.
Sol 1294 (Aug. 24, 2007): Plans called for Spirit to check for drift
in
the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, acquire movie frames in
search of dust devils with the navigation camera, and survey the
horizon
with the panoramic camera.
Odometry:
As of sol 1293 (Aug. 23, 2007), Spirit's total odometry was 7,154
meters
(4.45 miles).
------------------------------------------------------------------------
OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Brightening Skies Bolster Opportunity - sol
1256-1265, Aug 23, 2007:
Opportunity is healthy and remains perched near the rim of "Victoria
Crater." The rover was on a low-power schedule that alternated between
a
3-sol plan and a 4-sol plan.
Tau (atmospheric opacity) has begun to stabilize this week at around
3=2E7, resulting in solar array energy between 230-240 watt hours.
Therefore in the upcoming week, the team will return to nominal
planning.
The rover conducted a lot of what engineers call "runout science."
This
includes: panoramic camera wide-range tau measurements, navigation
camera tau measurements, navigation camera cloud measurements,
panoramic
camera soria (imaging a rough, rocky area near the rover), front
hazard
avoidance camera images, rear hazard avoidance camera images,
navigation
camera images, panoramic camera sky spot, panoramic camera dust
monitoring on the mast, miniature thermal emission spectrometer target
calibration and panoramic camera high-sun surveys.
Sol-by-sol summary:
Sol 1256: Opportunity conducted one hour of runout science.
Sol 1257: On this sol, the rover's activities included the following:
uplinked on high-gain antenna, panoramic camera wide-range tau,
navigation camera tau, navigation camera bitty cloud, panoramic camera
soria, front hazard avoidance camera images, rear hazard avoidance
camera images, navigation camera images, panoramic camera wide-range
tau, panoramic camera horizon survey, panoramic camera calibration
target, mast dust monitoring, miniature thermal emission spectrometer
calibration target and panamoric camera high-sun survey.
Sol 1258: Opportunity conducted 45 minutes of of runout science.
Sol 1259: On this sol, the rover did 30 minutes of runout science and
completed a UHF data downlink.
Sol 1260: Opportunity conducted 45 minutes of runout science.
Sol 1261: Opportunity's activities included the following: uplink on
high-gain antenna, engineering navigation camera tau, panoramic camera
wide range tau, panoramic camera soria calibration target, front
hazard
avoidance camera images, rear hazard avoidance camera images,
navigation
camera images, panoramic camera high-sun sky survey, pancam wide range
tau and UHF downlink.
Sol 1262: The rover did 30 minutes of runout science and completed a
UHF
downlink.
Sol 1263: Opportunity conducted 45 minutes of runout science.
Sol 1264: On this sol, the rover's activities included the following:
uplink on the high-gain antenna, engineering navigation camera tau,
panoramic camera wide-range tau, panoramic camera soria calibration
target, front hazard avoidance camera images, rear hazard avoidance
camera images, panoramic camera sky thumbs and panoramic camera
wide-range tau.
Sol 1265: 45 minutes of runout science and UHF downlink.
Odometry:
Opportunity's odometery is 11,462.94 meters (7.12 miles) as of the
last
drive on sol 1232.
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baalke
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