Mars Exploration Rovers Update - February 24, 2004

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Spirit Status for sol 51
Making Ground
posted Feb. 24, 2 pm PST

To inspire a morning "run" on sol 51, which ended at 3:15 p.m.
Tuesday, PST, Spirit woke up to Vangelis' "Chariots of Fire."
The rover deployed its arm, took microscopic images of the soil in
front of it and then proceeded toward its target, "Middle Ground."
Spirit drove 30 meters (98.4 feet), breaking its own record for a
single-sol traverse. Along the way, Spirit paused to image rocks
on both sides of the drive path with its panoramic camera.

The auto-navigational software that drove the last 12 meters
(39.4 feet) of the traverse to the "Middle Ground" target warned
Spirit that the slope into the hollow that houses it was too steep
(according to parameters set by rover engineers). Spirit then
paced along the rim, looking for a safe way down. Unable to locate
a secure path into the crater before the sol ended, Spirit ended up
facing slightly west of north instead of northeast, as called for by
the plan. This orientation will reduce the amount of data the rover
can return (due to interference between the UHF antenna and
items on the rover equipment deck), but it will be corrected in the
coming sols.

As of today, Spirit has moved 183.25 meters (601.21 feet) and is
now roughly 135 meters (442.91 feet) from its landing site,
Columbia Memorial Station.

The intent for the next several sols will be to drive Spirit into
"Middle Ground" and take a full panorama of the surrounding area
to identify scientifically interesting rocks.

Opportunity Status for sol 30
A Beautiful Grind
posted Feb. 24, 11:15 am PST

On sol 30, which ended at 2:56 a.m. Tuesday, February 24,
Opportunity performed its first rock abrasion tool operation on a
rock target known as 'McKittrick Middle Rat' at the El Capitan
site inside the crater. The tool shaved the rock over a period of
two hours, grinding into a total depth of about 4 millimeters (.16

The auspicious day began with the song 'Rock'n Me' by Steve
Miller and some miniature thermal emission spectrometer sky
surveys and sky stares to study the atmosphere. After
completing these activities, Opportunity took a short siesta to
recharge its batteries. The rover has been doing a lot of science
work at night, and the season on Mars is changing to winter, so
the rover has less energy to work with than it did earlier in the
mission. The martian days are getting shorter and the sun angle
is not allowing either rover to power up the solar panels as much
as in the past.

Opportunity woke up from its nap at 11:30 Local Solar Time on
Mars to run through the series of commands required to retract
the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and close its doors; take
several microscopic images of another nearby rock abrasion tool
target called 'Guadalupe;' flip the wrist; take a microscopic image
of "McKittrick Middle Rat;" and place the rock abrasion tool on its
target to run at 13:00 Local Solar Time.

After the abrasion tool was retracted, a series of microscopic
images of the scene were taken, and the alpha particle X-ray
spectrometer was successfully placed into the abrasion tool's
hole late in the day.

Some additional panoramic camera, miniature thermal emission
spectrometer readings, and hazard avoidance camera imagery
was completed through the day.

The plan for sol 31, which will end at 3:36 a.m. Wednesday,
February 25, is to continue getting long Moessbauer readings of
the rock abrasion tool hole and to prepare the tool for more work
again on sol 33 or 34.
Reply to
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I am completely blown-away by how impressive this is.
Has anyone on this newsgroup even come close to building a robot capable of doing this in an outdoor environment?
This is superbly great.
Thanks Ron for keeping up up-to-date.
Reply to
Alan Kilian
Opportunity is located 3° from the Equator and the Season on Mars is shortly after northern spring aequinoctium. Martian days are not getting shorter at the equator, and the sun angle is almost as high as it could be at this So what is the real reason for the power shortage ? Of course the Mars - Sun distance is slowly increasing but ...
Reply to
Carla Schneider
February 25, 2004
Carla Schneider wrote:
Marsgate. If Bush goes, O'Keefe goes too.
Thomas Lee Elifritz
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Reply to
Thomas Lee Elifritz
"Carla Schneider" wrote in message >
The heater is stuck on.
Reply to
M Schmidt
The Sun angle *is* getting worse, because the Sun is moving into the northern sky, taking it away from the equator, i.e. it is no longer passing directly overhead.
And there is some slight reduction in day length as well -- Opportunity being 3deg *south* of the equator -- although I wouldn't have thought it significant.
That too. And there is some dust on the solar arrays by now.
But more generally, beware of reading press releases as if they were scientific papers. A certain amount of sloppiness and imprecision is to be expected; it's *NOT* the technical people writing these things.
Reply to
Henry Spencer
It will get worse in the next months, but at the moment it is passing almost overhead. The difference in power is only 1.6% between 90° (directly overhead) and 80° sun angle.
Of course it is not significant let alone at this season of the mars year.
Yes these are real reasons, so why do they not tell us, instead of inventing something.
Usually yes, but this was not sloppiness and imprecision but a fairy tale to cover something up, otherwise they could have told us the real reason. They know that almost nobody looks in a mars calendar.
Reply to
Carla Schneider
Why do you make baseless accusations against hard working, honest people based on what you read in a press release (written by someone in the JPL press office)? That's the *real* issue here. Usenet is just crawling with self-important dolts who live in fantasy land. I'd take even a badly written press release over your kind of delusional thinking any day.
Reply to
Greg Crinklaw
Of course NASA's lying. Thye don't want to admit that the Martians are stealing power to run their jacuzzi....
chris in napa
Carla Schneider wrote:
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