Mars Exploration Rovers Update - March 11, 2006

http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/status.html
SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Studies Surface and Atmosphere on Way to 'McCool'
- sol 771-777, Mar 11, 2006:
Since backing down from the top of "Home Plate" on Martian day, or sol, 764 (Feb. 25, 2006), Spirit has driven southeast 103 meters (338 feet) toward "McCool Hill." Along the way, the rover used its robotic arm to analyze a rock target dubbed "Fuzzy Smith" and conducted remote scientific studies of outcrops along the side of Home Plate and on "Mitcheltree Ridge." Scientists plan to acquire long-baseline stereo images of McCool Hill before driving too close to the hillside. The images will provide measurements of surface features necessary for planning the rover's path.
During the week, NASA's Odyssey spacecraft has been relaying commands from Earth to Spirit via the UHF link. Communications over X-band frequencies have been allocated for use by the Deep Space Network to track the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter during its approach to the red planet. Next week, Spirit is expected to resume operations via X-band uplinks.
Sol-by-sol summaries:
Sol 771 (March 4, 2006): Spirit completed an analysis of targets dubbed "Rube Foster" and "Willie Wells" using the Moessbauer spectrometer and 13 filters on the panoramic camera. During the afternoon Odyssey pass, Spirit collected data with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Spirit then began a study of a rock target called Fuzzy Smith with the Moessbauer spectrometer.
Sol 772: Spirit stowed the robotic arm and took panoramic camera images of Fuzzy Smith, then drove 27 meters (89 feet) southeast across Home Plate. After the drive, Spirit conducted opacity observations of afternoon dust and measurements of the sky and ground using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.
Sol 773: After waking, Spirit continued atmospheric studies by taking thumbnail images of the sky with the panoramic camera and images of both the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. In the afternoon, Spirit acquired images with both the panoramic and navigation cameras to provide essential data for selecting targets and planning routes. The rover also completed a systematic ground survey and survey of rock clasts using the panoramic camera.
Sol 774: Spirit drove off of Home Plate and back into the "Dugout" - a gulley near the southeast edge of Home Plate. The rover acquired mid-drive images and post-drive images of surrounding terrain, then completed opacity observations and measurements of the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.
Sol 775: In the morning, Spirit took thumbnail images of the sky with the panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer measurements of the sky and ground. With the robotic arm still stowed, Spirit spent 30 minutes collecting temperature data using the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. In the afternoon, Spirit conducted reconnaissance with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.
Sol 776: Plans for this sol call for Spirit to begin collecting a long-baseline stereo mosaic of images of the hill by taking panoramic camera images from one site, driving 8 meters (26 feet), and then acquiring the part of the second half of the stereo mosaic.
Sol 777 (March 11, 2006): Plans for this sol include morning atmospheric studies, finishing the long-baseline stereo mosaic, and taking pictures of a target called "Bitty Cloud."
As of sol 775 (March 9, 2006), Spirit's total odometry was 6,756 meters (4.2 miles).
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OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Hawkeyeing from the 'Half Pipes' - sol 751-756, Mar 11, 2006:
Opportunity is healthy and making its way south along the "Payson" outcrop of "Erebus Crater." The traverse paths are known within the team as "half-pipes," after the popular Olympic event. Last week Opportunity drove along one half-pipe, collecting high-resolution panoramic camera images of the outcrop. (The team calls this "scoot and shoot"). The rover has now left this path, and the team has planned a drive to the next half-pipe. Depending on traversability, Opportunity will either continue its scoot-and-shoot outcrop imaging campaign over the weekend, or start down the road to "Victoria Crater."
Sol-by-sol summaries:
Sol 751 (March 5, 2006): Opportunity drove a short bump, took mid-drive panoramic camera images of the outcrop, then drove about 8 meters (about 26 feet) along the "half-pipe."
Sol 752: The rover did untargeted remote sensing this sol, including atmospheric science and systematic foreground studies with the navigation camera and the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Systematic foreground studies means gathering a set of consistent observations of different objects right in front of the rover.
Sol 753: Opportunity took pre-drive panoramic camera images of a cobble, drove 4 meters (13 feet), imaged the outcrop, then drove about 11 meters (36 feet) out of the first half-pipe towards the next one. It also acquired post-drive imaging.
Sol 754: Opportunity conducted systematic foreground studies with the panoramic camera and the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The rover also did some atmospheric science.
Sol 755: Opportunity drove about 19 meters (about 62 feet) to the edge of the half-pipe and acquired post-drive imaging to determine traversability.
Sol 756 (March 10, 2006): The plan for the sol is to conduct atmospheric science, including an attempt to observe clouds.
Total odometry as of sol 753 (March 7, 2006): 6645.57 meters (4.13 miles)
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I believe one day when we finally colonize mars, there will be a type of outdoors museum where it will show these two rovers working non-stop.... it is amazing how they managed to keep working for such long time.
Cheers
Padu
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It's engineering. Good engineering.
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Aidan Karley FGS
Aberdeen, Scotland,
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I think the builders would add that it takes a bit of luck, including an environment that is helping to keep the rovers clean ;-)
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NASA, now with scandinavian astro-babes like..
http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/images/mission_Emily_Eelkema_br.jpg
spike

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Hate to say it, Spike, but I wouldn't crawl over her to get to you.
--
Aidan Karley FGS
Aberdeen, Scotland,
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