Mars Exploration Rovers Update - October 13, 2006

http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/status.html
SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Studies Layers of Volcanic Rock - sol 977-981,
October 13, 2006:
Spirit is healthy and continues to make progress on a winter science campaign of experiments.
In parallel with normal planning, a special team has been developing plans to be executed during solar conjunction, when the sun obscures the line of sight between Earth and Mars and severely limits radio communication. Rover handlers will upload the plans to be executed by Spirit during solar conjunction prior to the beginning of conjunction. This year's solar conjunction period begins on the rover's 991st Martian day, or sol, (Oct. 16, 2006) and ends on sol 1005 (Oct. 30, 2006). Planning for future activities on sols 1006 and 1007 (Oct. 31 to Nov. 1, 2006) will resume Oct. 30.
Spirit continued to produce atmospheric profiles of dust, temperature at different heights, ice, and water vapor, as well as surface and sub-surface temperatures using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Plans also called for a scan of the sky for clouds, which, if found, could be incorporated into a multi-frame movie for observing cloud movement.
Spirit acquired super-resolution panoramic camera images of volcanic outcrops called "Marambio," "Jubany," and "Mitcheltree Ridge" on sols 979 and 981 (Oct. 4 and Oct. 6, 2006). The outcrops consist of basalt, a dense, dark rock that hardens from lava and often has a glassy appearance. These basalts were also vesicular, meaning they are porous because there were gas bubbles in the lava when it solidified.
The purpose of the super-resolution imaging campaign is to identify and map characteristics of the local geology. In particular, scientists hope to determine the relative stratigraphy of Mitcheltree Ridge, "Low Ridge," and the raised, circular plateau known as "Home Plate." Stratigraphy is the study of rock layers.
Spirit's solar energy levels continued to rise, ending the week at around 300 watt-hours. One hundred watt-hours is the amount of electricity needed to light one 100-watt bulb for one hour.
Sol-by-sol summary:
Sol 977 (Oct. 2, 2006): Spirit measured atmospheric opacity using the panoramic camera, surveyed the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, used the Moessbauer spectrometer to analyze dust collected by the filter magnets, acquired panoramic camera images of the work volume accessible by the robotic arm, and collected images of the rover's tracks with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.
Sol 978: Spirit measured atmospheric opacity using the panoramic camera, surveyed the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and collected thermal data from targets known as "Casey Station" and "Sobral." The rover acquired super-resolution images of volcanic rock outcrops called Marambio and Jubany and measured morning sky brightness in the west with the panoramic camera.
Sol 979: Spirit measured atmospheric dust opacity using the panoramic camera, surveyed the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and restarted integration of data from the Moessbauer spectrometer's inspection of dust on the filter magnets. In addition, Spirit acquired morning images of the dune field known as "El Dorado" as well as images of the Martian horizon using the panoramic camera, measured morning sky brightness in the west with the panoramic camera, and scanned the sky for clouds using the navigation camera.
Sol 980: Spirit measured atmospheric dust opacity using the panoramic camera, surveyed the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, surveyed the sky with the panoramic camera, and acquired super-resolution images of Mitcheltree Ridge with the panoramic camera.
Sol 981 (Oct. 6, 2006): Spirit measured atmospheric dust opacity using the panoramic camera, surveyed the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, restarted integration of data from the filter magnets with the Moessbauer spectrometer, and acquired super-resolution panoramic camera images of the soil target known as "Tyrone."
Odometry:
As of sol 981 (Oct. 6, 2006), Spirit's total odometry remained at 6,876.18 meters (4.27 miles).
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OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: A View Worth Waiting For! - sol 947-953, September 29, 2006:
Opportunity is healthy and sitting at the rim of "Victoria Crater"! After traveling 9,279.34 meters (5.77 miles) in 952 sols the team is rewarded by some of the most spectacular views seen on this mission. The week began with a checkout of basic mobility functions using the new flight software: arc, turn, go-to-waypoint and visual odometry. Also checked were a few of the mobility test criteria such as the time-of-day limits, suspension limits and a new capability for keep-out zones (areas deemed too dangerous to rove). Later in the week, Opportunity drove 60.1 meters (197 feet) over three sols to our current location at the top of "Duck Bay."
Sol-by-sol summaries:
Sol 947 (Sept. 22, 2006): Opportunity's panoramic camera took 13-filter, quarter-frame images of the targets "Macaroni" and "Rockhopper," and a mosaic of images of "Kitty Clyde's Sister." During the afternoon communication-relay pass by NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter, the miniature thermal emission spectrometer was used to evaluate Macaroni and Rockhopper. The navigation camera checked for clouds and the panoramic camera assessed the clarity of the atmosphere with a tau measurement.
Sol 948: The morning of this sol, the rover monitored dust buildup and targeted the sky and ground with its miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Opportunity executed a series of mobility tests to check out the new version of its flight software. Post-drive imaging included 360-degree view by the navigation camera and an image mosaic by the panoramic camera.
Sol 949: In the morning of this sol, the panoramic camera imaged the sky and measured for atmospheric clarity. The navigation camera looked for clouds and the miniature thermal emission spectrometer did a sky and ground measurement. This sol contained un-targeted remote sensing because it was the third of a three-sol plan. The panoramic camera continued to be busy, taking another tau measurement and sky images. Before the Odyssey pass, the navigation camera took images of the sky (called "sky flats") for calibration purposes. During the Odyssey pass, Opportunity used its miniature thermal emission spectrometer.
Sol 950: Opportunity used part of the morning block of this sol to take a panoramic camera tau measurement and to look for clouds with its navigation camera. It also shot images of the sky with the panoramic camera and observed the sky and ground with its miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The rover completed another panoramic camera tau measurement before it drove 30.2 meters (99 feet) toward Victoria Crater's rim. Post-drive imaging included hazard avoidance camera imaging, a panoramic camera mosaic and a navigation camera 360-degree image.
Sol 951: This morning, Opportunity used its panoramic camera to survey the sky. The rover then took a panoramic camera tau measurement, drove 26.4 meters (87 feet) toward Duck Bay and completed post-drive imaging, including navigation and panoramic camera mosaics. The navigation camera looked for clouds and the panoramic camera imaged the sky.
Sol 952: Opportunity used its miniature thermal emission spectrometer to measure the sky and ground. The rover took pre-drive panoramic camera and navigation camera images. Opportunity drove 3.5 meters (11.5 feet) toward the rim's edge, then took a navigation camera mosaic. There was a post-drive navigation camera cloud observation before the rover shut down for the afternoon. Before the Odyssey pass, the panoramic camera made a tau measurement and the miniature thermal emission spectrometer measured the sky and ground during the orbiter's pass. The panoramic camera took a sunset tau measurement.
Sol 953 (Sept. 29, 2006): In the morning of this sol, the panoramic camera imaged the sky, the navigation camera looked for clouds and the miniature thermal emission spectrometer measured the sky and ground. This sol is the first of two sols of targeted remote sensing in Duck Bay before Opportunity will drive off to "Cape Verde." The rover is at its closest approach to Victoria Crater and it has an incredible view! The plan for the remainder of this sol is to: take a panoramic camera tau measurement, look for clouds with the navigation camera, take a navigation camera mosaic in the drive direction, and take part one of a large panoramic camera panorama. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer will take a vertical scan of "Cabo Frio" during the Odyssey pass. The plan also calls for another navigation camera scan for clouds and a panoramic camera 13-filter examination of Cabo Frio to support the miniature thermal emission spectrometer in the morning of sol 954.
As of sol 952 (Sept. 27, 2006), Opportunity's total odometry is 9,279.34 meters (5.77 miles).
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