Mars Exploration Rovers Update - September 29, 2006

http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/status.html
SPIRIT UPDATE: Solar Power Is on the Rise as Spirit 'Follows the Water'
- sol 970-976, September 29, 2006:
Solar power levels on Spirit are slowly beginning to rise again following a winter low of 275 watt-hours on Martian day, or sol, 933 (Aug. 18, 2006). One hundred watt-hours is the amount of electricity needed to light one 100-watt bulb for one hour. This week, the rover's power levels rose to about 296 watt-hours.
Spirit spent much of the week analyzing atmospheric dust attracted to magnets on the spacecraft. The rover identifies iron minerals in the dust using the Moessbauer spectrometer. One of the two magnets, the filter magnet, is weaker than the capture magnet, allowing scientists to separate mineral grains that have the highest magnetic susceptibility, particularly minerals that contain iron.
During the week, Spirit studied rock targets known as "Juan Carlos," "Gueslaga," and "Tor" using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Juan Carlos and Tor are vesicular rocks filled with tiny holes that formed during the cooling of a froth of magma and gas. Scientists hope to determine whether these rocks are similar to or different from nearby smooth-textured volcanic rocks known as basalts. Gueslaga, meanwhile, is an entirely different kind of rock known as an "exotic," meaning it came from somewhere else and may have been emplaced during an impact event.
Spirit continued to make scientific observations of the soil target known as "Tyrone." Tyrone is a patch of bright material, white and yellow in color, that is possibly analogous to salty soils examined earlier in the mission known as "Arad" and "Paso Robles." Spirit's dragging right front wheel churned up the bright material on the rover's 784th sol of exploration of Mars (March 18, 2006). Some science team members have speculated that some component in this material is hydrated. If moisture enters or leaves the material, the miniature thermal emission spectrometer would be able to detect it. Scientists are also monitoring the soil with the rover's panoramic camera for any color changes, because variability in water content could affect the color. These observations are ongoing to account for seasonal variability.
The rover continues to operate successfully with the new flight software package.
Sol-by-sol summaries:
Sol 970 (Sept. 25, 2006): Spirit measured atmospheric opacity using the panoramic camera, surveyed the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, analyzed dust on the filter magnet with the Moessbauer spectrometer, acquired morning images of the spacecraft deck with the panoramic camera, and scanned the sky for clouds with the navigation camera.
Sol 971: Spirit measured atmospheric opacity using the panoramic camera, surveyed the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, collected data from the rock target known as Juan Carlos, and surveyed the horizon using the panoramic camera.
Sol 972: Spirit measured atmospheric 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, acquired panoramic camera images of the work volume accessible by the robotic arm, and measured morning sky brightness in the west with the panoramic camera.
Sol 973: Spirit measured atmospheric opacity using the panoramic camera, surveyed the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, studied the rock targets Gueslaga and Tor using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and used the panoramic camera to take images of rover tracks and measure morning sky brightness in the west.
Sol 974: Plans called for Spirit to measure atmospheric opacity using the panoramic camera, survey the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, restart integration of data from the filter magnets with the Moessbauer spectrometer, survey the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, scan the sky for clouds, measure morning sky brightness, and take a morning measurement of dust on the panoramic camera mast assembly with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.
Sol 975: Plans called for Spirit to measure atmospheric opacity using the panoramic camera, survey the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and acquire morning images of the rover's tracks with all 13 filters of the panoramic camera.
Sol 976 (Oct. 1, 2006): Plans called for Spirit to measure atmospheric opacity using the panoramic camera, survey the sky and ground using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, continue analysis of dust on the filter magnets with the Moessbauer spectrometer, and complete a morning sky survey with the panoramic camera.
Odometry:
As of sol 973 (Sept. 28, 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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