Mars Exploration Rovers Update - December 1, 2005

http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/status.html
SPIRIT UPDATE: Downhill Progress - sol 668-680, Dec 01, 2005:
Spirit is healthy and making good progress downhill. The short-term
goal is to drive toward couple of interesting features dubbed "Comanche" and "Miami." A decision on which target to choose for close examination will be made after the drive images come down from sol 680 (Dec. 1, 2005).
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Spirit used all four devices on its robotic arm -- the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, the Moessbauer spectrometer, the microscopic imager, and the rock abrasion tool (the brush on the abrasion tool) -- to study an outcrop area called "Seminole. The two targets for use of those tools on this outcrop were informally named "Abiaka" and "Osceola". The names refer to native American tribes in Florida. The investigations of the targets' composition identified abundant olivine and indicated that the outcrop is mafic (bearing a class of usually dark-colored minerals rich in magnesium and iron).
As of sol 679 (Nov. 30, 2005), Spirit has driven 5,463 meters (3.39 miles).
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OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Stalled Motor, Stowed Arm - sol 649-660, Dec 01, 2005:
Opportunity drove 43 meters on sol 649 (Nov. 20, 2005) and then bumped 10 meters to an outcrop for work with its robotic arm (instrument deployment device) over the Thanksgiving holidays. Opportunity's commands for sol 654 (Nov. 25, 2005) included unstowing the arm to begin using the tools on it for examining the layered outcrop that the rover had driven to three sols earlier. The arm is always stowed during drives. This time, a shoulder-joint motor that is needed for unstowing the arm stalled, and the arm stayed stowed. In subsequent sols, engineers worked to narrow the range of possibilities for the cause of the stall. Among the remaining possibilities is that, after working more than seven times longer than originally planned, the lubrication is degrading. One possible fix would be to increase the duration of the allowed motor start-up, to overcome the increased initial friction. The first diagnostic activity for the arm was performed sol 659, where a very small motion was recorded. Future diagnostic activities and continuing analysis will be performed to further characterize the shoulder-joint motor in upcoming sols.
As of sol 659 (Nov. 30, 2005), Opportunity has driven 6,502 meters (4.04 miles).
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Got another birthday coming up. Opportunity turns One (in Martian) on Dec 10 (Sol 669).
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