Mars Exploration Rovers Update - February 9, 2007

SPIRIT UPDATE: It's Officially Spring on Mars - sol 1097-1103, February 09, 2007:
Spring is in the thin, Martian atmosphere once again as NASA's Mars
Exploration Rover Spirit scans the local terrain for dust devils expected this time of year. The rover remains healthy and has completed remote sensing studies of a soil target known as "Tyrone," conducted from a distance of about 10 meters (33 feet) away. Tyrone has bright soil upturned in wheel tracks.
Because Spirit is now limited to driving on five wheels, Spirit's handlers did not feel comfortable sending the rover any closer to the soft soil surrounding Tyrone. On the rover's 1,102nd Martian day, or sol, of exploration (Feb. 7, 2007), the rover turned and retraced its tracks toward the layered rock exposure known as "Montalva" en route to the circular plateau known as "Home Plate."
Engineers planned to have Spirit drive approximately 8 meters (26 feet) early on sol 1103 (Feb. 8, 2007). Planned weekend activities included remote sensing observations in addition to the long drive back to Home Plate. Estimated dust levels, known as Tau measurements, appeared to be holding steady at around 0.55. Scientists are hopeful that Martian winds will clear dust from Spirit's solar panels and boost the rover's power levels as they did at around this time last year.
Sol-by-sol summary:
In addition to daily observations that included using the panoramic camera to measure atmospheric opacity, using the navigation camera to scan the sky for clouds, and using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer to survey the sky and ground, Spirit completed the following activities:
Sol 1097 (Feb. 2, 2007): Spirit used the miniature thermal emission spectrometer to acquire data on Tyrone and a rock target known as "Korolev." Spirit placed the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer on an exposure of white soil known as "Mount Darwin" and collected compositional data. Spirit also acquired images of Tyrone using the panoramic camera.
Sol 1098: Spirit continued to gather miniature thermal emission spectrometer data from Tyrone and alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer data from Mount Darwin.
Sol 1099: Spirit acquired microscopic images of Mount Darwin, scanned a target known as "Russkaya" with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and acquired more panoramic camera images of Tyrone.
Sol 1100: Spirit studied Mount Darwin with the Moessbauer spectrometer, continued to acquire data from Tyrone using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and acquired panoramic camera images of a sinuous feature in the dirt called "Hermite" and of the distant "El Dorado" dune field.
Sol 1101: Spirit acquired microscopic images of "Punta Arenas," a pebble in one of the rover's tracks. The panoramic camera photographed Tyrone. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer scanned distant "McCool Hill." Spirit also used the panoramic camera for images of Mount Darwin and Puenta Arenas.
Sol 1102: Spirit acquired images of McCool Hill with the panoramic camera. Then it turned to drive back toward Home Plate and updated the rover's knowledge of its position relative to the sun.
Sol 1103 (Feb. 8, 2007): Plans called for Spirit to take images of "Tyrone Vista" (the rover's view of the upturned soil known as Tyrone along with the surrounding terrain) and drive toward Montalva.
As of sol 1102 (Feb. 7, 2007), Spirit's total odometry was 6,926.42 meters (4.3 miles).
OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Opportunity Flips 10 Kilometers and Tests New Drive Software - sol 1077-1083, February 09, 2007:
Opportunity has completed a remote sensing campaign at "Cape Desire" and is on the move to the next promontory, called "Cabo Corrientes." Opportunity's odometer rolled past 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) during the 50.51-meter (166 feet) drive on sol 1080. By contrast, the NASA Level 1 requirements for the mission called for achieving at least 600 meters (1,969 feet) with one rover, and the mission design requirement was for 1,000 meters (3,281 feet). This is another significant milestone for Opportunity, and yet another testimony to the outstanding work done by the development and operations teams.
Sol-by-sol summary:
Each sol, the panoramic camera assesses atmospheric opacity ("tau") at the beginning of the sol's sequence of activities and again before the afternoon Mars Odyssey pass. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer scans sky and ground during the Odyssey pass. That instrument also observes sky and ground each morning as part of the preceding sol's activity plan, just prior to Spirit beginning the current sol's sequence. In addition to these regular activities, Opportunity also completed the following:
Sol 1077: Opportunity conducted panoramic camera 13-filter targeting on "Cabo Anonimo." The rover then used its miniature thermal emission spectrometer to stare at: rover tracks, at scuffed soil, at the area near the tracks and at Cabo Anonimo. The navigation camera took images to support the work by the miniature thermal emission spectrometer on and near the tracks. The panoramic camera also did a 13-filter examination of Cabo Corrientes. After the Odyssey pass, the rover conducted an argon experiment during six hours of collecting data with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.
Sol 1078: Opportunity drove 42.81 meters (140 feet) away from Cape Desire and then performed an update of its orientation. Post-drive imaging included navigation and panoramic camera mosaics. There was no science activity around the afternoon Odyssey pass on this sol because the team decided to use the energy to support an overnight UHF pass.
Sol 1079: The miniature thermal emission spectrometer completed a seven-point sky and ground analysis, the navigation camera looked for clouds, and then the rover completed two miniature thermal emission spectrometer sky and ground stares.
Sol 1080: The rover drove 50.51 meters (166 feet), then collected images for mosaics with the navigation and panoramic cameras. There was another morning UHF pass in the 1080 plan, so no science activity was conducted around the afternoon Odyssey pass.
Sol 1081: In the morning of this sol, a panoramic camera horizon survey was conducted. The navigation camera looked for clouds and then the miniature thermal emission spectrometer conducted a seven-point analysis of sky and ground. During the afternoon Odyssey pass, that instrument completed a five-point sky and ground analysis.
Sol 1082: The plan included a checkout of new autonomous navigation software during a drive toward Cabo Corrientes. Planned imaging after the drive included mosaics by the navigation and panoramic cameras. The rover's panoramic camera was instructed to view the Martian moon Phobos.
Sol 1083 (Feb. 9, 2007): The plan for this sol calls for the panoramic camera to have a look at the sky in the morning. The navigation camera will then look for clouds and the miniature thermal emission spectrometer will conduct a seven-point sky and ground analysis. In the afternoon, the rover will have another chance to see Phobos in the sky.
As of sol 1080 (Feb. 6, 2007), Opportunity's total odometry was 10,023.19 meters (6.23 miles).
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