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Click here to view the latest rover updates


Daily Update - 12/29/05
Spirit on 'Horseback'
Spirit Status for sol 695 - 702

Spirit is healthy. The rover drove 8.3 meters (27 feet) and perfectly positioned itself in front of a rock informally named "Comanche." Spirit performed work with the instruments on the robotic arm on a target called "Horseback" at Comanche. The rock abrasion tool's brush was only partially successful in making contact with Horseback, so the team moved the robotic arm to different target informally called "Palomino." Spirit performed a successful brushing and continued with more investigations using the other instruments on the robotic arm.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 695 (Dec. 17, 2005): Spirit performed targeted remote sensing.

Sol 696: Spirit performed targeted remote sensing.

Sol 697: Spirit approached "Comanche Spur" by driving 8.3 meters (27 feet).

Sol 698: Spirit took a picture of the target Horseback on Comanche Spur with the microscopic imager. The plan was for Spirit then to brush the target area with the rock abrasion tool's brush and afterwards perform observations with the Moessbauer spectrometer and microscopic imager. The brushing did not occur due to the rock abrasion tool losing contact with the target.

Sol 699: Spirit performed a short Moessbauer spectrometer integration and tried again to use the rock abrasion tool's brush on Horseback. The brush only cleared off roughly 20 percent of the target.

Sol 700: Spirit successfully brushed another area on Comanche, called Palomino. After the brushing, Spirit took pictures of Palomino using the microscopic imager. Spirit also studied Palomino with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

Sol 701: Spirit studied Palomino with the Moessbauer spectrometer and performed remote sensing.

Sol 702 (Dec. 24, 2005): Spirit studied Palomino with the Moessbauer spectrometer and performed remote sensing again.

As of sol 700 (Dec. 22, 2005), Spirit's total odometry is 5,673 meters (3.53 miles).

Daily Update - 12/28/05
Spirit Approaching 'Comanche'
Spirit Status for sol Sols 689-694

Spirit's main focus was to reach the target informally named "Comanche." Spirit successfully progressed 113 meters (371 feet). Spirit also performed three observations at night of the moons, Phobos and Deimos.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 689 (Dec. 11, 2005): Spirit performed a 22-hour integration with the Moessbauer spectrometer, took images with the panoramic camera, imaged dust devils with the navigation camera, and performed stares with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 690: Spirit drove for 37 meters (121 feet) toward Comanche using a combination of "blind" driving and autonomous navigation. Spirit observed Phobos and Deimos at night.

Sol 691: Spirit performed untargeted remote sensing using the panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Spirit observed Deimos at night.

Sol 692: Spirit drove 38 meters (125 feet) toward Comanche. Spirit observed Phobos and Deimos at night.

Sol 693: Spirit took pre-drive imaging of targets informally named "Miami," "Paiute," and "Teepee." Spirit drove 38 meters (125 feet) toward Comanche.

Sol 694: The plan is to drive about 40 meters (131 feet) toward Comanche. At the time of this report, the sol 694 sequence had not executed yet.

As of sol 693 (Dec. 15, 2005), Spirit's total odometry is 5,624 meters (3.49 miles).

Daily Update - 12/21/05
Evaluating Arm Positions
Opportunity Status for sol 675-681

This week the Opportunity Instrument Arm Anomaly Team continued investigating the safety of different arm positions. The intent is to determine the safest position to leave the arm while the vehicle drives to new locations. The original position for the arm while driving was to tuck it underneath the rover, hooked on a small pin. This leaves the partially failed shoulder azimuth joint at 90 degrees to the direction of travel. If the arm stuck in this position we would be unable to use the arm.

The current plan is to investigate different versions of driving with the instrument arm's "elbow" sticking out towards the front of the vehicle, with the arm's instrument cluster above the solar panels. From that position the instrument arm could still be used without using the suspect azimuth joint. The variations include leaving the instrument cluster in mid air, or resting one or another instrument on different portions of the rover for stability.

These different positions are being evaluated on the test rover at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Meanwhile, on Mars, Opportunity is continuing to use the arm and its instruments to investigate rocks within its reach. The rover has also been acquiring images for a 360-degree, multi-filter panorama of "Erebus Crater."

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 675 (Dec. 17, 2005): Opportunity completed a 17-hour reading with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and made observations with the panoramic camera.

Sol 676: The rover used the Moessbauer spectrometer for five hours and observed the atmosphere and a target called "Bellemont" with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 677: Opportunity completed a microscopic-imager mosaic of a target called "Williams," used the Moessbauer spectrometer for 11 hours, and observed targets with the panoramic camera.

Sol 678: The Moessbauer collected data about Williams' composition for 22 hours and the panoramic camera made observations.

Sol 679: Opportunity moved its robotic arm to a target called "Ted," which it began inspecting with the microscopic imager and the alpha proton X-ray spectrometer. The navigation camera took pictures of the rover's front deck.

Sol 680: Planned activities include using the rock abrasion tool to brush Ted for about 11 minutes, then placing the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer onto the target again for about 20 hours of data collection.

Sol 681 (Dec. 23, 2005): Plans for this and the following few sols are further inspection of Ted, plus targeted observations with the panoramic camera. Opportunity's total odometry remains at 6,502 meters (4.04 miles).

Daily Update - 12/16/05
Robotic Arm Deployed
Opportunity Status for sol 668-674

Opportunity successfully deployed its robotic arm on sol 671 (Dec. 13, 2005) and used it to position the microscopic imager. The cause of a shoulder-joint motor stall during an attempt to deploy the arm on sol 654 appears to be a broken wire in the motor windings. The motor can still be operated by changing one of the parameters so that more current is delivered. However, the behavior is still being characterized, and stalls of the motor can still occur while the motor parameters are being adjusted. Analysis also continues for determining the best strategy for keeping the arm unstowed even when it is not in use, so that the arm could still position instruments on targets even if the motor with the broken wire becomes unusable.

While parked at "Erebus Crater," Opportunity has completed a campaign of atmospheric science, with sky surveys, photometry observations at several times of day, and atmospheric observations with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The rover also observed ground targets with the panoramic camera and the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 668 (Dec. 10, 2005): The team had planned some targeted remote sensing and atmospheric observations, but the plan did not get uplinked due to issues with ground servers. Sol 669: The uplink succeeded, and Opportunity performed targeted remote sensing and atmospheric observations. Sol 670: Early in the morning, the rover performed an atmospheric observation. Later in the day, some stares with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer were completed. Sol 671: Results of diagnostic tests of the robotic arm were consistent with the performance of a motor with a broken wire in one of the windings. The motor can be operated in this configuration by modifying motor parameters. By making the necessary changes, the arm was successfully moved out of its stowed position. The team planned a two-image-by-two-image mosaic with the microscopic imager and a reading with the Moessbauer spectrometer. The first half of the mosaic completed as planned, but the arm sequence was halted after that due to a stall of the shoulder-joint motor. Sol 672: Opportunity made atmospheric and photometric observations. Sol 673: The plan was to complete the microscopic-imager mosaic that was started on sol 671 and place the Moessbauer spectrometer on a target called "Williams." However, the shoulder-joint motor stalled once again. Targeted observations with the panoramic camera were completed as planned. Sol 674 (Dec. 16, 2005): After analysis of the sol 673 stall, the team redelivered a command sequence to close the microscopic imager's dust cover and to position the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer for an overnight integration on Williams. Opportunity's total odometry remains at 6,502 meters (4.04 miles).

Daily Update - 12/12/05
Spirit Studying 'Algonquin'
Spirit Status for sol 680-688

This week Spirit drove to an outcrop area informally named "Algonquin." On sol 685, Spirit successfully drove for 15 meters (49 feet) and prepared for a series of robotic-arm activities planned for sol 687 to 690 at Algonquin. Plans are to proceed downhill to "Comanche" after that.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 680 (Dec. 1, 2005): Spirit drove 30 meters (98 feet) toward a feature between "Miami" and Comanche.

Sol 681: Spirit performed remote sensing during the day and observed the moon Phobos at night.

Sol 682: Spirit took images of Algonquin, "Miami," "Pima," and "Yaqui" with the panoramic camera. Spirit observed Yaqui, Pima, Algonquin, "Meentwioni," and "Myammia" with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

Sol 683: A planned drive toward Algonquin was not executed.

Sol 684: Spirit took images of a dust devil, did a near-field survey with the panoramic camera, and used the miniature thermal emission spectrometer during the day and at night.

Sol 685: Spirit successfully drove 16 meters (52 feet) to the Algonquin outcrop.

Sol 686: Spirit performed remote sensing during the day and observed the moon Phobos at night.

Sol 687: Spirit used the microscopic imager and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer to study a feature informally called "Iroquet," which is located on the Algonquin outcrop.

Sol 688: Spirit used the rock abrasion tool's brush on Iroquet for 25 minutes, and then continued observations of Iroquet with the microscopic imager and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

As of the end of sol 686, (Dec. 8, 2005), Spirit had driven 5,510 meters (3.42 miles).

Daily Update - 12/8/05
Encouraging Results from Shoulder-Motor Testing
Opportunity Status for sol 661-667

Opportunity is currently parked at "Erebus Crater," where it has continued remote-sensing science while the team made progress in diagnosing why a motor in the robotic arm stalled on sol 654. The motor turned successfully when supplied with more current on sol 666 (Dec. 8, 2005), an encouraging result. The arm was still in a stowed position after that testing. Further tests and analysis are planned for determining the best strategy for future use of the arm. The arm, which deploys four tools for examining rocks and soils, has already operated more than seven times as long as originally planned.

This motor at the shoulder of the arm is necessary for getting the arm out of its stowed position. Earlier tests made some alternative explanations -- such as a physical obstruction or degraded lubrication -- appear unlikely. The sol 666 test established confidence in a hypothesis that a broken wire in the winding of the motor caused the sol 654 stall. The test rotated the motor four revolutions at each of three different applied voltages. Tests to characterize the motor's behavior will continue in the coming week.

In the target-rich environment of outcrop exposed in and near Erebus, Opportunity has acquired a color panorama of the surroundings, a color mosaic of itself, and high-resolution images of several outcrop targets. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer successfully collected data on some high-priority science targets during sol 664 (Dec. 6, 2005). Informal names for targets examined in this vicinity by the panoramic camera include "Drake," "Chino Valley," "Bellemont," "Camp Verde," "Young," "Cherry," and "Paulden."

Opportunity did not drive this week. The rover's odometry total as of sol 666 remained 6,502 meters (4.04 miles).

Daily Update - 12/2/05
Downhill Progress
Spirit Status for sol 668-680

Spirit is healthy and making good progress downhill. The short-term goal is to drive toward couple of interesting features dubbed "Comanche" and "Miami." A decision on which target to choose for close examination will be made after the drive images come down from sol 680 (Dec. 1, 2005).

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Spirit used all four devices on its robotic arm -- the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, the Moessbauer spectrometer, the microscopic imager, and the rock abrasion tool (the brush on the abrasion tool) -- to study an outcrop area called "Seminole. The two targets for use of those tools on this outcrop were informally named "Abiaka" and "Osceola". The names refer to native American tribes in Florida. The investigations of the targets' composition identified abundant olivine and indicated that the outcrop is mafic (bearing a class of usually dark-colored minerals rich in magnesium and iron).

As of sol 679 (Nov. 30, 2005), Spirit has driven 5,463 meters (3.39 miles).

Daily Update - 12/1/05
Stalled Motor, Stowed Arm
Opportunity Status for sol 649-660

Opportunity drove 43 meters on sol 649 (Nov. 20, 2005) and then bumped 10 meters to an outcrop for work with its robotic arm (instrument deployment device) over the Thanksgiving holidays. Opportunity's commands for sol 654 (Nov. 25, 2005) included unstowing the arm to begin using the tools on it for examining the layered outcrop that the rover had driven to three sols earlier. The arm is always stowed during drives. This time, a shoulder-joint motor that is needed for unstowing the arm stalled, and the arm stayed stowed. In subsequent sols, engineers worked to narrow the range of possibilities for the cause of the stall. Among the remaining possibilities is that, after working more than seven times longer than originally planned, the lubrication is degrading. One possible fix would be to increase the duration of the allowed motor start-up, to overcome the increased initial friction. The first diagnostic activity for the arm was performed sol 659, where a very small motion was recorded. Future diagnostic activities and continuing analysis will be performed to further characterize the shoulder-joint motor in upcoming sols.

As of sol 659 (Nov. 30, 2005), Opportunity has driven 6,502 meters (4.04 miles).

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