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Daily Update - 2/24/06
Spirit Races Against Time and Dwindling Sunlight
Spirit Status for sol 758-763

In a race to collect as much scientific data as possible before the onset of Martian winter, Spirit climbed to the top of "Home Plate" and acquired images of the surrounding terrain. Each day, Spirit logs a reduction in the total amount of solar energy collected as the sun sinks lower on the planet's northern horizon.

The science team's objective is to do as much science as possible while concentrating on a drive campaign that will move the rover to the north-facing slopes of "McCool Hill." The team has already begun mapping routes to McCool, where Spirit will attempt to survive a second Martian winter with its solar panels tilted toward the sun.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 758 (Feb. 19, 2006): Spirit conducted targeted remote sensing and acquired 13-filter images of a target dubbed "Wilmington," as well as mosaics of the surrounding terrain, with the panoramic camera.

Sol 759: Spirit edged closer to a rock nicknamed "James 'Cool Papa' Bell."

Sol 760: Spirit acquired images of its work area with the navigation and panoramic cameras. The rover also conducted atmospheric observations.

Sol 761: Spirit used the microscopic imager to acquire images of a rock target called "Stars." Then the rover brushed that target with the rock abrasion tool and examined it again with the microscopic imager after the brushing. Spirit then began checking the mineral composition of the Stars target with the Moessbauer spectrometer.

Sol 762 (Feb. 23): Spirit continued the Moessbauer study of Stars. Following an overhead pass of the Odyssey orbiter, Spirit began an analysis of Stars with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. Scientists planned to have the rover continue collecting scientific data over the weekend from another target, nicknamed "Crawfords."

As of sol 762 (Feb. 23, 2006), Spirit's total odometry was 6,589.83 meters (4.09 miles).

Daily Update - 2/24/06
Opportunity Continues to Skirt Erebus Crater
Opportunity Status for sol 735-743

After completing work at the outcrop called "Olympia," Opportunity proceeded around the western edge of "Erebus Crater" toward an outcrop dubbed "Payson." After performing diagnostic tests on Martian day, or sol, 735 (Feb. 17, 2006), the rover team decided to increase rotor resistance from 65 ohms to 80 ohms for stowing and unstowing the robotic arm. Opportunity successfully stowed and unstowed the arm on both sols 740 and 741. As long as the robotic arm remains in calibration, the higher resistance value provides no additional risk.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 735 (Feb. 17, 2006): Opportunity conducted diagnostic activities on its robotic arm, making small movements of the shoulder joint with rotor resistance set at 75 ohms. If the arm were to fault out during any of the motions, the rover would clear the fault and re-set the resistance first to 80 ohms, and then to 85 ohms. However, the arm completed all motions successfully with rotor resistance set at 75 ohms.

Sol 736: The rover team attempted for a second time to send instructions via X-band frequencies for a drive to a target called "Zane Grey," but a Deep Space Network transmitter was down. The team did receive data from Opportunity over the same communications link.

Sol 737: Rover planners sent instructions to Opportunity for the second two days of the original three-day plan. Opportunity made atmospheric observations and measurements of the intensity of astronomical objects.

Sol 738: Opportunity continued to make remote atmospheric observations and photometric measurements.

Sol 739: Opportunity completed planned photometric measurements.

Sol 740: Opportunity began the planned drive to Zane Grey, stowing and unstowing the robotic arm with rotor resistance set at 80 ohms on the shoulder joint that controls compass direction. The rover halted after moving 21 centimeters (8 inches) when the right middle wheel reached the maximum current allowed. Motor currents on the other wheels remained nominal. Rover planners reduced the current limits after leaving "Purgatory Dune" to help prevent another imbedding event.

Sol 741: Opportunity drove 34.5 meters (113 feet) closer to the Payson outcrop after rover drivers set the current limits back to nominal values. Motor currents at the start of the drive were a bit higher than normal but dropped closer to normal values as the drive progressed.

Sol 742: Science team members planned to have Opportunity drive about 40 meters (130 feet) closer to "Payson" and acquire images from a distance of 20 meters (65 feet) over the weekend.

As of sol 742 (Feb. 24, 2006), Opportunity's total odometry was 6553.93 meters (4.07 miles).

Daily Update - 2/17/06
Inspecting 'Bellemont'
Opportunity Status for sol 729-735

Opportunity has completed its work on the "Olympia" outcrop. This week's activities included a Moessbauer spectrometer integration on target "Rough Rider," an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration on target "Fala," and a short drive to "Bellemont." Also the rover took microscopic imager mosaics of four targets at Bellemont. A team continuing to study occasional problems with the shoulder joint in Opportunity's robotic arm planned a series of diagnostic motions for the arm for sol 735.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 729 (Feb. 10, 2006): Opportunity continued using the Moessbauer spectrometer on Rough Rider and performed targeted remote sensing.

Sol 730: The rover finished using the Moessbauer spectrometer on Rough Rider, made atmospheric observations, and used the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer overnight on target Fala.

Sol 731: The rover stowed its arm, made a short drive to Bellemont and then unstowed the arm. This pattern of stow, drive and unstow is what the team intends to use for longer drives.

Sol 732: Opportunity used the microscopic imager at Bellemont. Four targets were identified. Opportunity acquired images of three ("Vicos," "Tara" and "Chaco") before a stall in the shoulder joint's azimuth motor halted the sequence.

Sol 733: Opportunity continued using the microscopic imager at Bellemont. Opportunity acquired images from the fourth target ("Verdun"), but a stall stopped the arm before it could get the last two planned images of the Chaco target.

Sol 734: The plan for this sol was to stow the arm, drive about 36 meters (118 feet) to an area known as "Zane Grey," and unstow the arm. The arm stalled just before it reached the ready position (before stowing), and the drive did not occur.

Sol 735 (Feb. 16, 2006): The plan for this sol includes remote sensing and a short diagnostic activity for the arm.

Total odometry as of sol 735: 6518.87 meters (4.05 miles)

Daily Update - 2/17/06
Spirit Studies Layered Rocks
Spirit Status for sol 750-755

Spirit will soon be on top of the rugged plateau known as "Home Plate," which features the most spectacular layering Spirit has yet encountered, and begin taking images of the surrounding terrain. Spirit had a productive week investigating two rock targets, "Barnhill" and "Posey." A restricted planning period (resulting from periodic, limited opportunities to communicate with overhead satellites) gave Spirit an opportunity to spend a few sols (Martian days) engaged in untargeted remote sensing and atmospheric science. The rover also charged its batteries. The science team is assigning nicknames to surface features honoring star players and managers of the Negro Leagues of baseball in the first half of the 20th century.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 750 (Feb. 11, 2006): Spirit examined a rock target dubbed "Pitcher" with the microscopic imager, then completed an overnight study of a rock target dubbed "Fastball" with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

Sol 751: Spirit stowed the robotic arm and executed a commanded, 5.3-meter (17-foot) drive to Posey using visual odometry. The drive went exactly as planned and ended with the rover in place to immediately begin scientific studies with the robotic arm without further adjustment of the rover's position.

Sol 752: Spirit conducted light remote sensing and recharged the rover's batteries.

Sol 753: Spirit acquired images of a rock target dubbed "Gray" using the microscopic imager, brushed a surface target known as "Manager" using the rock abrasion tool, and completed an 18-hour analysis of Manager using the Moessbauer spectrometer. The science team opted to complete an overnight Moessbauer study before conducting an overnight alpha particle X-ray spectrometer study in order to decide how long to stay at this location. Because the Moessbauer spectrum was similar to that of an earlier un-brushed target nicknamed Barnhill, the team directed the rover to resume driving after collecting the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer data.

Sol 754: Spirit took after-brushing images of Manager with the microscopic imager, finished the analysis of Manager with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, and took panoramic camera images of Barnhill.

Sol 755 (Feb. 16, 2006): Before moving on, Spirit rolled back from Manager and collected data from the site with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. The rover paused to take mid-drive images with the navigation camera before "sliding into" Home Plate after driving 10 meters (33 feet) using visual odometery and 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) using autonomous navigation.

Odometry:

As of sol 755, Spirit's total odometry was 6,575 meters (4.09 miles).

Daily Update - 2/10/06
Spirit Reaches 'Home Plate'
Spirit Status for sol 743-749

After several months of driving, Spirit finally reached the semicircular geologic feature dubbed "Home Plate" in Gusev Crater. Spirit first got a good view of Home Plate in late August, after cresting "Husband Hill." After that, the rover made scientific observations near the summit before commencing an ambitious drive of 848 meters (2,782 feet, a little more than half a mile) in 94 Martian days, or sols, to get to Home Plate. Spirit is now studying a rock target called "Barnhill" just below the tabletop-like surface of Home Plate using instruments on the rover's robotic arm. Science team members have begun calling Home Plate the "Burns Cliff of Gusev" because of its layered appearance and steep slopes, which is reminiscent of, but smaller than, "Endurance Crater," explored by Spirit's twin, Opportunity, on the opposite side of Mars in 2004.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 743 (Feb. 4, 2006): Spirit performed untargeted remote sensing and drove 45.7 meters (150 feet), navigating with the guidance of engineers.

Sol 744: Spirit completed an autonomous drive of 17.5 meters (57.4 feet), checked its orientation, and took post-drive images of surrounding terrain.

Sol 745: Spirit completed light remote sensing and recharged the battery for the coming week.

Sol 746: Spirit moved 9 meters (29.5 feet) closer to the target nicknamed "Barnhill." Following the approach, Spirit was perched at a tilt of 27 degrees.

Sol 747: Spirit carefully unstowed the robotic arm, continuously checking the rover's own tilt, which changes when the arm is deployed. Engineers expected a change in tilt of less 0.3 degrees; the actual change was minus 0.048 degrees. Spirit then performed scientific analysis as planned with the microscopic imager and Moessbauer spectrometer.

Sol 748: Spirit continued conducting scientific studies using the Moessbauer instrument and began acquiring a large mosaic of images with the panoramic camera.

Sol 749: The team proceeded with plans to have the rover change tools to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, continue to acquire panoramic images, and conduct other remote sensing.

As of sol 749 (Feb. 11, 2006), Spirit's total odometry was 6,559 meters (4.08 miles).

Daily Update - 2/10/06
Finishing Up at 'Olympia'
Opportunity Status for sol 723 – 728

Opportunity is healthy. The rover is in the midst of a robotic-arm and remote-sensing campaign on a feature informally named "Roosevelt." Last week Opportunity used its microscopic imager, Moessbauer spectrometer and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer to examine "Overgaard."

The short-term goal is to finish studying the "Olympia" outcrop by mid next week. The final feature that will be characterized in this location is called "Bellemont."

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 723 (Feb. 4, 2006): Finished the microscopic-imager mosaic on Overgaard.

Sol 724: Stowed the robotic arm in the hover position. Attempted a short drive to Roosevelt, but the drive ended early due to suspension limits.

Sol 725: Succeeded in short drive to Roosevelt.

Sol 726: Used alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and Moessbauer spectrometer on a target called "Rough Rider."

Sol 727: Used the microscopic imager for an image mosaic of Roosevelt.

Sol 728: Continued using the Moessbauer spectrometer on Rough Rider. Acquired high-resolution images of surrounding outcrops with the panoramic camera.

Total odometry as of sol 728 (Feb. 9, 2006): 6,509.8 meters (4.045 miles)

Daily Update - 2/6/06
Spirit Completes Mile No. 4 on Mars
Spirit Status for sol 735-742

Spirit is healthy and continues to make progress toward "Home Plate" after driving more than 150 meters (492 feet), taking images, making atmospheric observations, and analyzing geology.

Spirit completed two diagnostic tests of the dynamic brakes on sol 735 (Jan. 27, 2006) after the team detected a dynamic brake fault associated with the left-front and right-rear steering actuators on Sol 733. The tests were copies of tests that were run after a similar anomaly on sol 265 for Spirit. Also on sol 735, the rover performed a small wheel wiggle after its drive to test the dynamic brakes. The wheel wiggle steered the wheels slightly, then steered them straight. No dynamic brake warnings were observed. The intermittent behavior of the relay status that controls the dynamic brakes, as well as the results of the diagnostic activities, are consistent with the behavior observed after the sol 265 anomaly. The team continued with the same resolution, which was to instruct the rover to ignore the dynamic brake error status. Driving has continued with normal steering function.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 735 (Jan. 27, 2006): Rover planners had a busy day of preparing and executing a dynamic brake diagnostic test in addition to a day of driving. Spirit drove 26.3 meters (86.3 feet) without using the steering motors on the left-front and right-rear wheels. Results of the diagnostic testing were consistent with behavior following an anomaly on sol 265 (Oct. 1, 2004). Spirit also acquired panoramic camera images of "Allegheny Ridge" and "YuGong."

Sol 736: Rover science team members discovered an interesting rock and decided to spend a couple of days studying it with instruments on Spirit's robotic arm. Spirit collected a mosaic of microscopic images and collected spectrographic information with the Moessbauer instrument. Spirit took panoramic camera images of rock targets called "Xing Tian," "GongGong," "Luo Zu," "Sui Ren," "Cang Jie," and used the miniature thermal emission spectrometer to examine "Cang Jie," "Sui Ren," "Ho Ji," and "Luo Zu."

Sol 737: Spirit made remote sensing observations of Ho Ji and atmospheric observations using the rover's panoramic camera.

Sol 738: Spirit began driving around a rocky ridge that separated the rover from Home Plate, traveling an additional 33.7 meters (111 feet). Following a complete analysis of diagnostic tests run on sol 735, rover drivers decided to follow the same recovery plan used after the sol 265 anomaly, and Spirit continued to drive without incident.

Sol 739: Spirit drove 30.5 meters (100 feet). The rover stopped after 5 meters (49 feet) of autonomous navigation because of a sequencing error. Rover drivers added an automated flight check to the sequence to catch future errors of a similar nature. Spirit was unable to complete most of the planned post-drive imaging.

Sol 740: Rather than wait another day for Spirit to take a set of post-drive images, rover drivers gave Spirit the go-ahead to navigate independently using onboard instruments. Spirit drove 17 meters (56 feet) autonomously.

Sol 741: Spirit drove 43.5 meters (143 feet) to the top of a gently sloping ridge, providing an excellent view of the path to Home Plate.

Sol 742 (Feb. 3, 2006): Spirit prepared for a day of driving 30 meters as directed by rover drivers plus driving 15 meters to 20 meters autonomously.

Odometry:

As of sol 741 (Feb. 2, 2006), Spirit's total odometry was 6,430 meters (exactly 4 miles).

Daily Update - 2/2/06
Mozart on Mars
Opportunity Status for sol 715-721

Opportunity is healthy and is continuing the characterization of an outcrop called "Olympia." The rover is on top of a feature called "Overgaard." The plan is to complete a mosaic with the microscopic imager, then drive toward a feature called "Roosevelt" and examine it with tools on the robotic arm.

The informal names of targets on Overgaard are related to Mozart, marking his 250th birthday on Jan. 27.

Sol-by-sol summaries:

Sol 715 and 716 (Jan. 27 and 28, 2006): Used the microscopic imager on "Branchwater" and "Bourbon."

Sol 717: Bumped to Overgaard to do an extensive mosaic with the microscopic imager.

Sol 718: Conducted untargeted remote sensing (atmospheric science).

Sol 719: Planned use of the microscopic imager on targets "Don_Giovanni," "Salzburg" and "Nachtmusik," but a robotic arm error occurred during the work on Salzburg.

Sol 720: Conducted untargeted remote sensing.

Sol 721 (Feb. 2, 2006): Cleared the errors for another attempt to use the microscopic imager on Overgaard.

Opportunity's total odometry as of sol 721 is 6,505 meters (4.04 miles).

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