Mars Exploration Rovers Update - June 15, 2004
SPIRIT UPDATE: Are We There Yet? - sol 152-155, June 15, 2004
On sol 152, Spirit continued its journey toward the "Columbia
Hills" and completed an 83-meter (272 feet) drive that brought its total odometry to 3.2 kilometers (2 miles). After the drive, the rover completed some remote sensing that brought more details of the hills into view.
Spirit roved another 70 meters (230 feet) on sol 153, and 49 meters (161 feet) on sol 154. After the drive on sol 154, Spirit attained a miniature thermal emission spectrometer scan of the hills that will help scientists identify what the hills are made of.
As of sol l55, Spirit was roughly 50 meters (164 feet) from the base of the target location at the Columbia Hills. Spirit reached this location after a 23-meter (75 feet) drive that ended with the rover at a maximum tilt of 20 degrees. 20 degrees is well below the safe limit for tilt and was 3 to 4 degrees below the estimated tilt for this traverse.
OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Exploring Endurance - sol 134-137, June 15, 2004
Opportunity is becoming accustomed to its new sloped home inside "Endurance Crater." There are positives and negatives to the rover's new position and orientation. The solar array is oriented toward the northeast, which maximizes solar power in the morning and also warms the high gain antenna actuator faster, so heating is no longer required before the morning communications session. On the downside, the UHF communications sessions have degraded slightly at this orientation.
On sol 134, Opportunity drove 3.9 meters (about 13 feet) into Endurance Crater, then backed up 1.4 meters (4.6 feet), remaining inside the crater. Drive slippage and vehicle tilt was as predicted by the engineering team. An hour's worth of remote sensing completed the sol. Opportunity then performed deep sleep overnight into the morning of sol 135.
On sol 135, Opportunity drove 1.3 meters (4.3 feet) deeper into Endurance Crater to a position that was about the deepest point it reached on sol 134. This short drive was intended to allow for detailed imaging of the first likely target for the instrument arm, a rock called "Tennessee." The drive went exactly as planned, leaving Opportunity with a final tilt of -19.44 degrees and a heading of 62.5 degrees. The rover then performed almost two hours of remote sensing, then set up for another night of deep sleep.
Sol 136 was spent performing a series of panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer observations from sol 135's final location. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer performed atmospheric measurements and an overnight observation during the early morning pass by NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter. Part one of a planned ingress (entry) survey campaign with the panoramic camera was initiated.
On sol 137, Opportunity approached the rock target referred to as Tennessee. Opportunity drove 1.19 meters (3.9 feet) deeper into Endurance Crater, placing Tennessee perfectly within the instrument arm's reach. The rover is in position to perform the first series of arm operations starting on sol 139. Deep sleep mode was again invoked overnight from sol 137 to sol 138. The plans for the coming sols include grinding into Tennessee with the rock abrasion tool and investigating it with the rover's spectrometers.
Total odometry after sol 137 is 1,466.16 meters (more than nine-tenths of a mile)!
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