Mars Exploration Rovers Update - March 4, 2004 SPIRIT UPDATE: Ready to Hit the Road Again - sol 60, Mar 04, 2004
Spirit completed its observations at "Middle Ground" on its 60th martian sol, ending at 9:11 p.m., PST on March 4. Waking up to "Pictures to Prove It," by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Spirit finished gathering data from the rock abrasion tool hole on "Humphrey" with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and the microscopic imager. The panoramic camera then continued to acquire more images for the 360-degree view from the current rover position at "Middle Ground." After backing up 0.85 meters (about 2.8 feet), the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera had their turn to collect data and images from both of the rock abrasion tool's latest efforts on "Humphrey" - the triple-brushed area and the depression. As of this sol, Spirit has traveled 195.24 meters (about 641 feet). Plans for next sol include backing up and turning to avoid "Ingrid," a 20-centimeter (about 8 inches) rock to the west of "Humphrey," and then driving approximately 25 meters (82 feet) toward "Bonneville" in the northeast. Spirit will also snap the final images that will make up the 360-degree panorama of "Middle Ground." OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: An Armada of Arm Moves - sol 39, Mar 04, 2004 On sol 39, which ends at 8:52 a.m. PST on Thursday, March 4, Opportunity awoke to "Bad Moon Rising" by Creedence Clearwater Revival in honor of the eclipse caused by the martian moon Deimos. The science and engineering team built a whopping 490 commands to accomplish the most complex robotic arm operations on Mars yet. Opportunity took three mosaics on the area dubbed "Last Chance," using the microscopic imager, creating 128 images in over 200 arm moves. Each "frame" of these mosaics required multiple microscopic images. There are two reasons for this. First, the microscopic imager does not have auto-focus, so the team needed to have Opportunity take and return multiple images at each location at different distances from the rock to get at least one in focus. A second reason is that the team needed Opportunity to take an extra image at a slightly different angle for each frame to create the right conditions to build stereo and computer-generated graphics of the "topography" of the rock area up close. After about two-and-a-half hours of microscopic imager maneuvers, the robotic arm placed the Mössbauer spectrometer on a location at "Last Chance" called "Makar." Opportunity also used the panoramic camera to watch the rare solar crossing of the sun by the moon Diemos and took images of the sky in coordination with the European Space Agency's orbiter at Mars, Mars Express. The plan for sol 40, which will end at 9:32 a.m. PST on Friday, March 5 is to continue taking microscopic images of the "Last Chance" area, then drive to a new location dubbed "The Dells."
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