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Daily Update - 1/29/07
Spirit Studies Layered Rocks and Wind-Blown Drifts
Spirit Status for sol 1079-1084

With the rover's third Martian spring just around the corner, Spirit is healthy and has started acquiring movies with the navigation camera in search of dust devils wheeling across the terrain. Spring officially begins on Martian day, or sol 1103 (Feb. 8, 2007).

During the past week, Spirit acquired microscopic images of a soil target called "Londonderry," which is an active wind drift shaped by the motion of bouncing sand grains. Spirit also acquired super-resolution panoramic camera images of an exposure of layered bedrock with rounded rock fragments known as "Zucchelli." Scientists hope the images will reveal information about color, structure, grain size, and mineralogical composition of the rock.

Spirit continued to make progress on scientific studies of a rock exposure known as "Montalva" on the lower stratigraphic unit of an outcrop known as "Troll." On the rover's 1,085th sol (Jan. 21, 2007) of exploration, Spirit used the wire brush on the rock abrasion tool to reveal more surface area and enable clean measurements with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Spirit then backed up to conduct analysis of the newly brushed area.

In the coming week, scientists plan to have Spirit retrace its tracks toward a soil exposure known as "Tyrone" for additional panoramic camera images and miniature thermal emission spectrometer measurements to be taken from a distance of about 10 meters (30 feet).

Sol-by-sol summary

In addition to daily observations that included measuring atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera and surveying the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, Spirit completed the following activities:

Sol 1085 (Jan. 21, 2006): Spirit acquired stereo microscopic images of Londonderry, as well as a target known as "Contact" and used the wire brush on the rock abrasion tool to brush the surface of Montalva. Spirit acquired panoramic camera images of layered rock targets known as "Los Estados," "Wollaston," and "Monte Dinero."

Sol 1086: Spirit acquired miniature thermal emission spectrometer data on rock targets called "Svea" and "Maudhem." Spirit acquired navigation camera movies in search of dust devils and acquired panoramic camera images of the Martian horizon and sky.

Sol 1087: Spirit stowed the robotic arm and backed up before taking navigation camera images in support of observations to be made with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Spirit acquired navigation camera images after backing up and acquired panoramic camera images of the drive direction.

Sol 1088: Spirit acquired panoramic camera images of the rock target now called "Montalva Daisy," in honor of the daisy-like arrangement of circular brushed areas on the rock's surface. The rover acquired data on Montalva Daisy and the background area around the target using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The rover surveyed the sky for calibration purposes using the panoramic camera.

Sol 1089: Plans called for Spirit to acquire long-baseline stereo images, using the panoramic camera, of the circular, plateau-like feature known as "Home Plate" in preparation for going back there after having survived the Martian winter. To do this, the rover moves laterally from one point to another between taking images with the left and right eyes of the camera. Plans also called for the rover to take super-resolution panoramic camera images, as well as navigation camera images of the rock target "Zucchelli," and to acquire data on Montalva using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The rover was also to acquire post-drive images of the terrain using the navigation camera and take thumbnail images of the sky using the panoramic camera.

Sol 1090 (Jan. 20, 2007): Plans called for Spirit to use the navigation camera to watch for dust devils and take images in support of investigations with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The rover was also slated to collect data with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and complete a survey of rock clasts using the panoramic camera.

Odometry

As of sol 1087 (Jan. 23, 2006), Spirit's total odometry was 6,896 meters (4.28 miles).

Daily Update - 1/29/07
Opportunity Hones Reckoning Skills, Tests Computer Smarts
Opportunity Status for sol 1063-1069

After driving around the "Bay of Toil" onto "Cape Desire," a promontory overlooking "Victoria Crater," Opportunity began testing various techniques for visually determining the rover's precise location after moving across sandy, somewhat slippery terrain. Because the sandy surface is largely flat and featureless (except for the dropoff into "Victoria Crater"), the rover's primary reference points are the long rows of repeating ridges and holes in its own tracks. They all look pretty much the same, repeating the same pattern every 80 centimeters (2.6 feet). The rover is working on ways to make its tracks look different at every step, which will remove any ambiguities in the images of the tracks.

Opportunity continued to test new computer smarts to enable automated placement of instruments on a target of scientific interest.

Sol-by-sol summary

In addition to daily observations that included measuring atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera, searching for clouds with the navigation camera, surveying the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and imaging the sky with the panoramic camera, Opportunity completed the following activities:

Sol 1063 (Jan. 19, 2007): Opportunity measured atmospheric argon with the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer and acquired part of a panoramic postcard of Victoria Crater using the panoramic camera. Opportunity surveyed rock targets known as "Gomes," "Gomes Background" (the surface area around Gomes), "Santandres," "Deseado," "Narrows," "Sardines," and "Trabajo" using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 1064: Opportunity drove 4.21 meters (13.8 feet) around the Bay of Toil toward Cape Desire. The drive included a test to allow the rover to make unique track patterns for better determination of its position. The drive test had two legs: one in which the rover dragged the right front wheel for 5 centimeters (2 inches) and then drove on all 6 wheels for 55 centimeters (1.8 feet), and a second in which the rover drove 60 centimeters (24 inches) and then spun both front wheels 23 degrees, or approximately 5 centimeters (2 inches).

Sol 1065: Opportunity acquired a full-color image using all 13 filters of the panoramic camera of the foreground area, then surveyed the foreground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The rover monitored dust on the mast and acquired panoramic camera images of the sky at sunset.

Sol 1066: Opportunity drove 25.38 meters (83.27 feet) away from the rim of Victoria Crater to continue testing and determining the best method for visual odometry -- determining the precise position by imaging the rover's tracks. The rover did a series of 5 tests, each covering 5 centimeters (2 inches) and each designed to produce a different pattern in the tracks. All of the driving was backward. During the first test, the rover created scuffs with both front wheels. During the second test, the rover wiggled the left wheel and scuffed with the right wheel. The third test was a "drunken sailor" test in which the rover drove in small curves. During the fourth test, the rover turned in place 10 degrees at specific intervals, or "steps." The fifth test was a combination of the previous four tests.

Sol 1067: Opportunity drove 40.43 meters (132.6 feet) to set up for the approach to the edge of Cape Desire. The rover acquired panoramic camera images of "Guam," a chevron-shaped rock outcrop.

Sol 1068: Opportunity drove backward 7.8 meters (26 feet) toward the tip of Cape Desire.

Sol 1069 (Jan. 26, 2007): Plans called for Opportunity to drive a short distance of 7 meters (23 feet) to an imaging position about 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) away from the left edge of Cape Desire. From this vantage point, Opportunity was to acquire images of "Bahia Blanca," the next bay to the north. The rover was also slated to survey the horizon with the panoramic camera and complete Step 4 of the automatic placement test, the first attempt at actually reaching and touching a target autonomously. During the test, the rover was to acquire images with the hazard avoidance camera, swing back the robotic arm, touch the target with the Moessbauer spectrometer, and acquire microscopic images.

Odometry

As of sol 1068 (Jan. 25, 2007), Opportunity's total odometry was 9,918 meters (6.2 miles).

Daily Update - 1/19/07
Spirit Studies Distinctive Rock Layers with Granules and Platy Beds
Spirit Status for sol 1079-1084

Spirit is healthy and continues to make progress on scientific studies of a rock exposure known as "Montalva," which is one of the lower layers of an outcrop known as "Troll." Compositional data that Spirit collected using the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer suggest the rock has high potassium content. To confirm this, scientists selected an adjacent exposure for further scrutiny.

In addition, Spirit began scientific analysis of an exposure known as "Riquelme" within the middle stratigraphic units of the "Troll" outcrop. Riquelme is composed of spherical particles that may be lapilli, which are pebble- to granule-size rocks ejected during a volcanic eruption. Spirit is also acquiring data about an upper exposure, nicknamed "Zucchelli," of thin platy beds in the outcrop using the panoramic camera and alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer.

During the week, Spirit acquired stereo panoramic camera images of the raised, circular plateau known as "Home Plate" for use in creating a digital elevation model. The navigation camera acquired movie frames in search of dust devils on the rover's 1082nd and 1084th sols, or Martian days of exploration (Jan. 18, 2007 and Jan. 20, 2007).

Science team members plan to have Spirit observe a transit of the Martian moon Phobos as it passes between the rover and the sun on sol 1083 (Jan. 19, 2007) and attempt to acquire panoramic camera images of comet McNaught at sunrise. It is possible that predawn sunlight will make the comet hard to see.

Dust levels have been returning to normal levels, with tau (a measure of how obscured the sun is when viewed through the atmosphere) dropping to 0.549 on sol 1081 and resulting in increased solar energy of 343 watt-hours. After recent dust storm activity on Mars, tau peaked at 1.136 on sol 1066 (Jan. 1, 2007), resulting in solar array energy of 276 watt-hours.

Sol-by-sol summary

Sol 1079 (Jan. 15, 2006): Spirit placed the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer on a new, offset target near Montalva, acquired miniature thermal emission spectrometer data on rock targets known as "Guillaume" and "von Neumayer," surveyed the sky and ground using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and spent 5 hours collecting data with the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer.

Sol 1080: The panoramic camera acquired a full-color image of Zucchelli using all 13 filters of the panoramic camera. The microscopic imager inspected "Montalva Offset." The rover swung the robotic arm out of the way to take panoramic camera images of both that target and Riquelme. Spirit acquired microscopic images of Riquelme before placing the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer on the target. The rover surveyed a rock target known as "Lazarev" using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 1081: Spirit acquired panoramic camera images of Home Plate and the dune field known as "El Dorado." Spirit checked the calibration target and surveyed a target known as "Maud Land" with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Spirit acquired data using the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer, images of the sky using the panoramic camera, and movie frames of potential dust devils using the navigation camera.

Sol 1082: Plans called for Spirit to measure atmospheric dust, survey the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectromter, and acquire data on "Riquelme3" using the Moessbauer spectrometer. Plans also called for Spirit to take images of the sky for calibration purposes using the panoramic and navigation cameras; survey the sky, ground, and a rock outcrop known as "d'Unville" using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer; and take panoramic camera images of the Phobos transit.

Sol 1083: Plans called for Spirit to measure atmospheric dust opacity, acquire navigation camera and panoramic camera images of the sky for calibration purposes, and survey the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Plans also called for continued work on Riquelme3, during which Spirit was to acquire additional data about iron composition with the Moessbauer spectrometer. The rover was also to study "Zucchelli3" using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 1084 (Jan. 20, 2007): Plans called for Spirit to measure atmospheric dust, scan the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, continue Moessbauer analysis of Riquelme3, conduct miniature thermal emission spectrometer analysis of "Zucchelli4," and acquire navigation camera frames in search of dust devils. The next morning's activities were to include panoramic camera images of a soil slip known as "Lennox" and continued miniature thermal emission spectrometer analysis of "Zucchelli5."

Odometry

As of sol 1081 (Jan. 17, 2006), Spirit's total odometry was 6,895 meters (4.28 miles).






Daily Update - 1/19/07
Opportunity Studies Cobbles and Rock Exposures Around 'Victoria Crater'
Opportunity Status for sol 1057-1062

Opportunity continues to make progress in acquiring long-baseline stereo images of "Victoria Crater." To do this, the rover moves laterally from one point to another between taking images with the left and right eyes of the panoramic camera. The path separating the images is known as a baseline and increases the apparent visual depth of features in the terrain.

During the past week, Opportunity drove across "Cabo Anonimo," a promontory on the northwest edge of Victoria Crater. From there, Opportunity took images of a face of "Cape Desire," the next promontory clockwise around the crater rim, on the other side of the "Bay of Toil." Opportunity then proceeded around the Bay of Toil on the way to Cape Desire.

Opportunity was scheduled to take a picture of comet McNaught on the morning of the rover's 1,063rd sol, or Martian day, of Mars exploration (Jan. 20, 2007).

Sol-by-sol summary

In addition to daily observations that included measuring atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera, searching for clouds with the navigation camera, surveying the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and imaging the sky with the panoramic camera, Opportunity completed the following activities:

Sol 1057 (Jan. 13, 2007): Opportunity measured atmospheric argon with the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer and surveyed surface targets known as "Pacific," "Pacifico," and "Straight" using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 1058: Opportunity drove across Cabo Anonimo to the rim overlooking the Bay of Toil.

Sol 1059: Opportunity completed standard remote sensing activities.

Sol 1060: Opportunity acquired the first half of the long-baseline stereo pair of the Bay of Toil using the panoramic camera. The rover then drove 2 meters (7 feet) to get into position to acquire the second half of the baseline stereo pair.

Sol 1061: Opportunity acquired the second half of the baseline stereo pair of panoramic camera images, then proceeded driving around the Bay of Toil.

Sol 1062 (Jan. 18, 2007): Opportunity acquired panoramic camera images of a rock outcrop known as "Guam," exposed on the plains above the rim of Victoria Crater. The camera also photographed cobbles "Gallego," "Vasco" and "Gomes" along the rim. Opportunity acquired miniature thermal emission spectrometer data on Gallego, the soil next to Gallego, and Vasco. Plans called for Opportunity to take snapshots of comet McNaught the next morning.

Odometry

As of sol 1061 (Jan. 17, 2007), Opportunity's total odometry was 9,840 meters (6.1 miles).

Daily Update - 1/12/07
Spirit Continues to Test New Computer Smarts
Spirit Status for sol 1070-1078

Spirit Continues to Test New Computer Smarts

Posted January, 12, 2007 for Sols 1070-1078

On the rover's 1,068th sol, or Martian day of exploration on Mars (Jan. 4, 2007), Spirit used its new computer smarts to autonomously acquire images of the terrain using the hazard avoidance camera, construct a three-dimensional model of the terrain, identify rock or soil exposures of interest, and generate plans for placing the Moessbauer spectrometer and microscopic imager on 10 of those targets. Spirit's twin, the Opportunity rover on the other side of Mars, completed the same exercise. The next step of the testing process for both rovers will be to actually place scientific instruments on a target of interest.

Spirit spent much of the past week studying a layered rock exposure known as "Montalva." During the study, the rover used the brush on the rock abrasion tool, the microscopic imager, the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer that collects information about elemental composition, and the Moessbauer spectrometer that identifies iron-bearing minerals.

Plans called for Spirit to observe three transits of the Martian moon Phobos as it passed between the rover and the sun on sols 1075 (Jan. 11, 2007), 1077 (Jan. 13, 2007), and 1078 (Jan. 14, 2007).

Sol-by-sol summary

Sol 1070 (Jan. 6, 2006): Spirit unstowed the robotic arm and brushed the surface of Montalva, acquired a microscopic image of the rock, and placed the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer on it for elemental analysis. Before shutting down for the evening, Spirit measured atmospheric dust using the panoramic camera.

Sol 1071: Spirit acquired a full-color image, using all 13 filters of the panoramic camera, of a boulder nicknamed "Davis." It also used the navigation camera for images of scientific targets, and used the miniature thermal emission spectrometer to measure atmospheric dust and to surveyed the sky and ground, while communicating with the Odyssey orbiter in the afternoon.

Sol 1072: Spirit scanned the foreground using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, acquired 4 hours worth of data using the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer, monitored atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera, and took images of the sky for calibration purposes.

Sol 1073: Spirit swung the robotic arm out of view to collect full-color, 13-filter images of Montalva with the panoramic camera and acquired 4 hours of worth of data using the Moessbauer spectrometer. The rover scanned the sky and ground using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, monitored dust accumulation on the rover mast, measured atmospheric dust, and imaged the sky for calibration purposes.

Sol 1074: Spirit used the navigation camera and the miniature thermal emission spectrometer observe a nearby rock known as "Kohnen" and another target known as "Amundsen." Spirit fired up the Moessbauer spectrometer for another 3 hours worth of analysis of Montalva. The rover turned off the Moessbauer spectrometer and monitored atmospheric dust.

Sol 1075: Spirit observed the morning transit of Phobos using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, fired up the Moessbauer for an overnight observation, acquired thumbnail images of the sky using the panoramic camera, and searched for dust devils by acquiring video frames using the navigation camera.

Sol 1076: Plans called for Spirit to use the Moessbauer spectrometer for another 3 hours of study of Montalva and to take images of the sky for calibration purposes with the navigation and panoramic cameras. Spirit was also to monitor atmospheric dust and pre-position the panoramic camera to acquire images of the next day's transit of Phobos.

Sol 1077: Plans called for Spirit to acquire images of the sky for calibration purposes while communicating directly with Earth using the high-gain antenna. Plans also called for Spirit to use the Moessbauer for 12 hours of analysis of Montalva, heat up the electronics inside the panoramic camera, and acquire images of the Phobos transit with the panoramic camera.

Sol 1078 (Jan. 14, 2007): Plans called for Spirit to scan the sky for clouds using the navigation camera, study a target known as "Svarthammaren," and survey the sky and ground during the Phobos transit at 1:45 p.m. local solar time using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The rover was to survey targets known as "Sejong" and "Amery" and search the sky for clouds again the following morning using the navigation camera.

Odometry As of sol 1075 (Jan. 11, 2006), Spirit's total odometry was 6,895 meters (4.28 miles).






Daily Update - 1/12/07
Opportunity Finds Another Meteorite
Opportunity Status for sol 1049-1056

After wrapping up scientific studies of a rock called "Santa Catarina" on the rim of "Victoria Crater," Opportunity determined, based on analysis of the iron content, that the rock is probably a meteorite. Nearby cobbles appear to have similar composition, based on data from the Moessbauer spectrometer, panoramic camera, and miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Opportunity's itinerary will now take the rover in a northeasterly direction toward the crater's edge for a better look at the west face of "Cape Desire," on the other side of the "Bay of Toil."

On the morning of Opportunity's 1,048th sol, or Martian day, the rover entered auto mode, meaning that, in order to protect itself from a sequencing error, the rover cancelled all scheduled activities. Rover planners re-established control of all operating sequences on sol 1049 (Jan. 5, 2007).

Also on sol 1049, Opportunity performed additional diagnostic tests of the grinding motor that operates the rock abrasion tool. All signs point to a failed encoder. Rover handlers must now invent a new strategy for using the brush and grinder that does not rely on the encoder to sense when the device comes into contact with a rock surface. Team members anticipate they will be able to use the rock abrasion tool again in a few weeks.

Sol-by-sol summary

In addition to daily observations that included measuring atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera, searching for clouds with the navigation camera, surveying the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and imaging the sky with the panoramic camera, Opportunity completed the following activities:

Sol 1049 (Jan. 5, 2007): Opportunity conducted diagnostic tests of the rock abrasion tool, studied Santa Catarina using the Moessbauer spectrometer, acquired full-color, 13-filter panoramic images of cobbles known as "Ibirama" and "Xaxim," and studied a blue cobble known as "Igreja" using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 1050: Opportunity acquired full-color panoramic camera images of cobbles known as "Lajes" and "Pelotas," studied Lajes with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, took images of Lajes with the navigation camera, and analyzed Santa Catarina with the Moessbauer spectrometer.

Sol 1051: Opportunity acquired panoramic camera images of the area where the rover is scheduled to drive, acquired data from a cobble known as "Mafra" using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and collected additional data about Santa Catarina with the Moessbauer spectrometer.

Sol 1052: Using all 13 filters of the panoramic camera, Opportunity acquired images of Mafra and a cobble nicknamed "Peixe," scanned the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and continued to analyze Santa Catarina using the Moessbauer spectrometer.

Sol 1053: Opportunity acquired full-color images using all 13 filters of the panoramic camera of cobbles known as "Videira" and "Chapeco," scanned Videira and the background behind it using the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and conducted analysis of Santa Catarina using the Moessbauer spectrometer.

Sol 1054: Opportunity monitored dust accumulation on the rover's mast, surveyed the sky with the sun low on the horizon using the panoramic camera, and surveyed the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 1055: Plans called for Opportunity to back up and acquire panoramic camera images of Santa Catarina along with Moessbauer spectrometer data, turn northeast and drive toward Bay of Toil, take stereo images using the navigation camera, and acquire panoramic mosaics using the panoramic camera for help in planning the next drive to the edge of Victoria Crater.

Sol 1056 (Jan. 12, 2007): Opportunity was scheduled to conduct a sky survey using the panoramic camera.

Odometry

As of sol 1053 (Jan. 9, 2007), Opportunity's total odometry remained at 9,790 meters (6.1 miles).

Daily Update - 1/5/07
Opportunity Studies Unusual Rocks on Rim of 'Victoria Crater'
Opportunity Status for sol 1043-1048

Opportunity continued scientific studies of a rock called "Santa Catarina" on the rim of "Victoria Crater." Scientists suspect that Santa Catarina may be a meteorite or a rock blasted out from beneath the surface of Victoria. Opportunity collected extensive measurements to determine the iron content of the rock using the Moessbauer spectrometer and will continue to do so during the coming week.

Other activities included analysis of cobbles nearby that may be similar to Santa Catarina. Based on the results, members of the science team will either decide to stay and continue investigating the rocks or drive toward the next promontory of Victoria Crater.

Opportunity also conducted tests in support of the Phoenix mission to Mars scheduled for launch later this year. On the rover's 1,037th and 1,047th Martian days, or sols, of exploration (Dec. 24, 2006 and Jan. 3, 2007), Opportunity sent UHF-band transmissions to NASA's Odyssey spacecraft as it passed overhead. These communications mimicked those to be used by Phoenix.

During a routine imaging session on New Year's Day (sol 1045), Opportunity detected a stall in the grind motor of the rock abrasion tool. Subsequent diagnostic tests found no obstructions. More diagnostics were planned for sol 1049 (Jan. 5, 2007).

Sol-by-sol summary

In addition to daily observations that included measuring atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera, searching for clouds with the navigation camera, surveying the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and imaging the sky with the panoramic camera, Opportunity completed the following activities:

Sol 1043 (Dec. 30, 2006): Opportunity studied the elemental composition of the Martian atmosphere with the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer. The rover surveyed the surrounding plains, dust on the horizon, and the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 1044: Opportunity acquired panoramic camera images to survey the soil, measure surface brightness, and scan the horizon. The rover scanned the plains, sky, and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 1045: Opportunity acquired images of the grinding bit on the rock abrasion tool and microscopic images of Santa Catarina. The rover acquired elemental data about Santa Catarina using the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer.

Sol 1046: Using all 13 filters of the panoramic camera along with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, Opportunity studied nearby cobbles nicknamed "Joacaba," "Tubarao," and "Igreja." The rover studied Santa Catarina using the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer.

Sol 1047: Opportunity conducted diagnostic tests of the rock abrasion tool, analyzed the iron composition of Santa Catarina using the Moessbauer spectrometer, and used all 13 filters of the panoramic camera along with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer to acquire data from nearby cobbles nicknamed "Florianopolis" and "Xanxer." The rover conducted a communications demonstration for the Phoenix mission.

Sol 1048 (Jan. 4, 2006): Opportunity continued analysis of Santa Catarina with the Moessbauer spectrometer and used all 13 filters of the panoramic camera along with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer to study nearby cobbles dubbed "Videira" and "Chapeco."

Odometry

As of sol 1047 (Jan. 3, 2006), Opportunity's total odometry remained at 9,790 meters (6.1 miles).

Daily Update - 1/5/07
Martian Weather Delays Travel Plans
Spirit Status for sol 1063-1069

The dust storm season has apparently arrived at Gusev, causing delays in Spirit's fourth Earth year of exploring the Red Planet. Spirit spent most of the holiday season of 2006 and 2007 keeping an eye on the sky, measuring atmospheric dust that could prevent sunlight from reaching the rover's solar panels.

During the past week, atmospheric dust levels have been typical for this time of year on Mars, measuring about 1 on the scale used by the rover. The rover estimates dust levels by measuring opacity -- the degree to which the atmosphere is impenetrable by light. This value is known as tau and varies on a continuous scale from 0 on up. During most of Spirit's mission on Mars, tau values have fallen between 0 and 1. Values between 1 and 2 can greatly limit the activities the rover can perform. Values of 2 or greater could be fatal.

In addition to measuring atmospheric dust, Spirit continued to watch for dust devils and successfully retested step No. 3 of new computer smarts that will enable the rover to autonomously place scientific instruments of the rover's robotic arm onto a target of scientific interest. During the test, Spirit was able to take images of the workspace, unstow the arm, and plan a path of approach for reaching a target.

Next up for Spirit will be an attempt to approach and conduct scientific analysis of a layered rock exposure known as "Montalva," part of a larger outcrop known as "Troll."

Sol-by-sol summary

In addition to daily observations that included measuring atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera, searching for clouds with the navigation camera, scanning the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer, and imaging the sky with the panoramic camera, Spirit completed the following activities.

Sol 1063 (Dec. 29, 2006): After completing a short drive the previous day to a north-facing slope that tilted the rover's solar panels toward the sun, Spirit monitored atmospheric dust, acquired panoramic camera images of a place (called "Desolacion") where the rover's tracks cross each other, surveyed the Martian horizon with the panoramic camera, and monitored dust accumulation on the rover mast.

Sol 1064: Spirit monitored atmospheric dust and surveyed the sky and ground with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 1065: Spirit monitored atmospheric dust.

Sol 1066: Spirit monitored atmospheric dust.

Sol 1067: Spirit monitored atmospheric dust and searched for dust devils by acquiring successive navigation camera images that could be made into a movie.

Sol 1068 (Third Earth-year anniversary of Spirit's landing): Spirit monitored atmospheric dust, surveyed surrounding rocks with the panoramic camera, acquired full-color images of Desolacion with the panoramic camera, and retested step No. 3 of the robotic arm autonomous placement code.

Sol 1069 (Jan. 5, 2006): Plans called for Spirit to approach Montalva, acquire full-color panoramic camera images of a spongy-looking lava rock known as "Esperanza," and acquire panoramic camera images of Montalva and another layered rock exposure known as "Riquelme."

Odometry

As of sol 1062 (Dec. 28, 2006), Spirit's total odometry was 6,891.34 meters (4.28 miles).

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