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Daily Update - 3/31/04
Opportunity 'Back in the Saddle'
Opportunity Status for sol 65

Opportunity resumed science operations after waking to Aerosmith's "Back in the Saddle" on its 65th sol, which ended at 2:02 a.m. PST on March 31. During the martian morning, the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera studied the atmosphere. "Bounce" rock was imaged by the panoramic camera.

Opportunity's instrument arm was then deployed to get a close-up view of "Bounce" using the microscopic imager. The rock abrasion tool team used some of these images to identify the exact target for next sol's grinding operation. The Moessbauer spectrometer was then placed on a designated target on the rock for an overnight integration.

In the afternoon, Opportunity took navigation and panoramic camera images and completed more miniature thermal emission spectrometer science.

Next sol, the rover's rock abrasion tool will grind into Bounce.

Daily Update - 3/31/04
Brushing the Dust Off Missouri
Spirit Status for sol 86

Spirit began sol 86, which ended at 2:20 p.m. PST on March 31, 2004, by waking up and heating the panoramic mast assembly to complete sky and ground stares with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Spirit completed the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration on the hole made by the rock abrasion tool and then took a 45-minute nap.

Once Spirit woke up, it began the 6-position rock abrasion tool brush mosaic on the target Missourion the rock called Mazatzal. Once this was completed successfully, the rovers arm was stowed.

Spirit then rolled backwards .9 meters (2.95 feet) to correctly position itself to acquire mini thermal emission spectrometer imaging of the newly brushed mosaic, and the previously ground hole. In addition, Spirit took sky and ground stares and panoramic camera images of the upcoming drive direction. The sol ended with mini thermal emission spectrometer stares at the Columbia Hillsand an afternoon pass by NASAs Mars Odyssey orbiter.

Sol 87, which ends at 3:00 p.m. PST on April 1, 2004, will be a driving day for Spirit as it begins what could be a record-breaking journey toward the Columbia Hills.

Daily Update - 3/30/04
Looking Inside Mazatzal
Spirit Status for sol 85

Since the rock abrasion tool completed a full-circle grind into the "New York" and "Brooklyn" targets on the rock "Mazatzal," it was time for Spirit to do some analysis. Spirit spent much of Sol 85, which ended at 1:41 p.m. PST on March 30, successfully operating the instruments on its robotic arm to take a more detailed look inside Mazatzal.

Although all the operations were completed successfully on Mars, the rover team spent most of the morning and afternoon on Earth worrying. After the team sent the uplink to Spirit, they waited for the standard "beep" that confirms the sequence reached Spirit and was activated. This beep, and an expected one 10 minutes later were not acquired, and engineers proceeded to trouble-shoot what might have gone wrong. No errors could be found, and finally a successful afternoon Odyssey communications pass provided 75 megabits of data, indicating that all the sequences were in fact onboard the rover and that all the planned sol activities had completed successfully. Like worried parents, the rover team members breathed a collective sigh of relief, and are now looking into possible causes of the failure to detect the beep.

As planned, Spirit began sol 85 by receiving the uplink and then taking a one-hour nap. After waking, the rover took panoramic camera images of the rock abrasion tool and of the ratted hole in Mazatzal. Before the panoramic camera work was done, Spirit took some final shots of "Bonneville" crater. Some of those images might contribute to a super-resolution image of the heatshield remnants on the far wall. Spirit also took some images to try to catch a dust devil in action.

After the panoramic camera activity, Spirit used the microscopic imager to take a 5-position pseudo-color mosaic of the Mazatzal rock abrasion tool hole. Then the Moessbauer spectrometer was placed in the hole and began an overnight integration.

A little after 2 p.m. Mars Local Solar Time, the last miniature thermal emission spectrometer sections of Bonneville crater were acquired, followed by a set of panoramic camera images of the drive direction. In the late afternoon, Spirit used the mini thermal emission spectrometer to acquire ground and sky stares, which will be complemented by another set early tomorrow morning. Shortly after the 2 a.m. Mars Global Surveyor pass, the arm will change tools from the Moessbauer spectrometer to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer for an integration in the rock abrasion tool hole through 9:20 a.m Mars Local Solar Time on Sol 86.

The rock abrasion tool will be back to work on sol 86, which will end at 2:20 p.m. PST on March 31, 2004, brushing a 6-spot mosaic on another portion of the rock Mazatzal called "Missouri." The mini thermal emission spectrometer will analyze the brushed area and then Spirit will begin a 5-sol drive toward the Columbia Hills.

Daily Update - 3/30/04
Opportunity Takes a Breather
Opportunity Status for sol 64

On Opportunity's 64th sol, which ended at 1:22 a.m. PST on March 30, the rover team analyzed the results of engineering activities run to investigate an error message they received from the rover on sol 63.

A problem with a secondary memory file was isolated and resolved. Just as an ordinary computer disk can have corrupted sections, a corrupted file in an area where rover commands are addressed and stored has been identified. Engineers have identified the location of the problem within the memory and figuratively fenced it off, containing it and preventing it from harming any future command sequences. This minor issue has not impeded the rover from resuming normal science operations on the next sol.

The wake-up song chosen for Opportunity on this quiet sol was "Stand" by REM.

The rover is currently at the rock dubbed "Bounce." Opportunity met this rock once before; while still cloaked in its protective lander and airbags, the rover bounced on the rock while on its way to a safe landing in "Eagle Crater." Miniature thermal emission spectrometer observations have shown Bounce is rich in hematite. In the coming sols, the rover's other spectrometers will examine the rock before the rock abrasion tool grinds into a designated target.

Daily Update - 3/30/04
Rat Bears Down on 'Brooklyn'
Spirit Status for sol 83-84

The angular nature of the rock called "Mazatzal" required some extra rodent power over the weekend. The latest grind by Spirit's rock abrasion tool (the RAT) resulted in that tool's deepest hole yet, nearly 8 millimeters (0.31 inches.) The rover was inspired to tackle the target "Brooklyn" right next to its "New York" bull's-eye by the Beastie Boys' "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" on its 83rd sol, which ended at 12:22 p.m. PST on March 28.

Spirit's 84th sol, which ended at 1:01 p.m. PST on March 29, was planned as a day of investigation. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera made successful observations of the crater informally named "Bonneville," but planned operations of the rover arm were not executed due to a switch on the Moessbauer spectrometer getting momentarily stuck. After a successful Moessbauer integration, the instrument was pulled back from Mazatzal, but one of two contact switches did not indicate a no-contact condition. Although the instrument had been retracted, the rover's software interpreted this as an unexpected collision of the spectrometer with an object, so it terminated any further arm operations. The stuck switch flipped about three minutes later but the rover is programmed to wait until the false error is cleared by mission control.

On sol 85, Spirit will retake microscope images of areas on Mazatzal, and overnight Moessbauer and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integrations will be repeated.

Daily Update - 3/26/04
Rats in "New York"
Spirit Status for sol 81

Spirit began sol 81, which ended at 11:02 a.m. PST on March 26, 2004, by stopping the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration and then imaging the instrument's placement with the hazard avoidance camera. The rest of this sol was all about grinding into the target "New York" on the rock named "Mazatzal."

The rock abrasion tool operated on the New York target for three hours and forty-five minutes and created an impression in the rock that was 3.79 millimeters (.15 inches) deep. The angular shape of Mazatzal and the fact that the rock is a little harder than previously abraded rocks allowed the more flat side of the circular target to receive a more intense grind. On sol 83, the science and engineering teams plan to again place Spirit's rock abrasion tool onto the rock, overlapping the already abraded area and reaching the area just to the left.

Spirit will spend most of sol 82, which will end at 11:42 a.m. PST on March 27, 2004, analyzing the rock abrasion tool impression with the microscopic imager, Moessbauer spectrometer and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. The rover will also place the microscopic imager over a clean surface to the upper left of the ratted area and take some images.

The wake-up song today was "Boy from New York City" by The Manhattan Transfer, in honor of the grind on the New York target.

Spirit's odometer now reads: 492 meters - more than a quarter of a mile!

Daily Update - 3/26/04
Opportunity and The Lion King
Opportunity Status for sol 60

On sol 60, which ended at 10:44 p.m. PST on March 25, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity had a quiet day continuing its research around the exterior of Eagle Crater.

Opportunity changed tools from the Moessbauer spectrometer to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer around 11:30 Local Solar Time. In addition to the tool change, Opportunity took a comprehensive color high-resolution panorama with the panoramic camera. The rover team dubbed it the "Lion King Panorama" because it is a look around Opportunity’s domain from a high vantage point -- much like the view from "Pride Rock" in The Lion King movie. The large panorama essentially filled the remaining flash memory volume onboard the spacecraft, requiring a plan for sol 61 that minimizes data collection. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer also collected remote sensing data.

The wake up song for sol 60 was "The Circle of Life" by Elton John in honor of the Lion King panorama.

The plan for sol 61, which will end at 11:23 p.m. on March 26 PST, is to drive north to an area with dark material.

Daily Update - 3/25/04
Open the Door
Spirit Status for sol 80

On sol 80, which ended at 10:23 a.m. PST on March 25, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit repeated overnight measurements of "Illinois" and "New York," two targets on the rock "Mazatzal." The measurements needed to be repeated because the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer's doors inadvertently did not open during the prior sol. In honor of doors being stuck partially open, sol 80's wake up song was "Open the Door" by Otis Redding.

Mazatzal is one of an apparent class of "light-toned rocks," which may be common in the area where Spirit landed in Gusev. This rock appears to be a "ventifact," which means it may have been carved by the steady winds that scientists know come from the northwest into the top area of this crater rim.

The plan for sol 81, which will end at 11:02 a.m. on March 26 PST, is to grind into Mazatzal with the rock abrasion tool.

Daily Update - 3/25/04
Browsing Bright Material
Opportunity Status for sol 59

Opportunity spent sol 59, which ended at 10:04 p.m. PST, placing the Moessbauer spectrometer on the bright material it approached yestersol, and conducting more remote sensing observations.

This relatively light workload allowed the rover to recover energy for the next sol's activities. Those will include completing an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer read on the same soil target and initiating the panoramic mosaic image from the rover's current position.

The wake-up tune for the sol was "59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy)" by Simon and Garfunkel.

Daily Update - 3/24/04
Sweep and Study the 'States'
Spirit Status for sol 79

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit awakened at 9:35 a.m. Mars Local Solar Time on Sol 79, which ended at 9:43 a.m. PST on March 24. An early morning review of the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer data revealed that the instrument's doors were not fully open and that the tool did not completely engage at the intended "New York" target on the rock dubbed "Mazatzal." The alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration on "New York" will be repeated on sol 80.

Spirit took a nap until 12:45 Mars Local Solar time to conserve power for the upcoming grind on Mazatzal on sol 81. Once the rover woke up, it began the sequences of brushing and analyzing two targets, "New York" and "Illinois," on Mazatzal. Each target was brushed with the rock abrasion tool and then imaged with the microscopic imager and panoramic camera. The entire sequence ended with a Moessbauer spectrometer integration on the New York target.

Rover controllers plan to let Spirit rest until 4 a.m. Mars Local Solar time on Sol 80, when the tools on the robotic arm will be changed to place the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on the brushed New York target. The rest of sol 80, which will end at 10:23 a.m. on March 25, will be spent analyzing the brushed and unbrushed areas of Mazatzal with the instruments on the rover's robotic arm.

Daily Update - 3/24/04
Back to Bright Material
Opportunity Status for sol 58

The song "Come on Home" by Lambert, Hendricks and Ross beckoned Opportunity back toward its landing site crater to an area of bright material. The rover also began to image a panoramic mosaic of the plains on this sol, which ended at 9:25 p.m. PST on March 23.

Over the martian night, Opportunity will again wake up to take miniature thermal emission spectrometer measurements.

In the coming sols, the rover will use its spectrometers to investigate the bright material area and then move on to a specific target in the area dubbed "Bright Spot."

Daily Update - 3/23/04
Preparing to Grind at Mazatzal
Spirit Status for sol 78

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit woke up at 7:24 a.m. Mars Local Solar time on sol 78, which ended at 9:04 a.m. on March 23, 2004, and began a day of observations in preparation for the sol 79 grind on the rock called "Mazatzal."

After waking, Spirit warmed-up the mast actuators for some early morning soil and atmosphere miniature thermal emission spectrometer observations. It then went back to sleep before beginning the morning direct-to-earth communication session with the high gain antenna.

At 10:00 a.m. Mars Local Solar time, Spirit began analyzing the soil targets "Saber" and "Sandbox" with the mini thermal emission spectrometer. It also took panoramic camera images of "Skull" and Saber. Then it was time to unfold the instrument arm to capture microscopic imager images of three targets on Mazatzal: "Arizona," "Illinois," and "New York." The New York target was further analyzed with a 17-hour Moessbauer spectrometer integration.

While the Moessbauer was integrating, Spirit proceeded to execute several mini thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera observations of interesting features in the surrounding area. The observations included images of "Bonneville" crater, "Saber," "Sandbox" and "Orange Beach."

Spirit had completed all these activities by 2:40 p.m. Mars Local Solar time and then took a siesta until the afternoon Odyssey UHF pass. During that pass, the rover captured mini thermal emission spectrometer ground and sky images. Before shutting down at 5 p.m. Mars Local Solar time, Spirit positioned the panoramic camera for a nighttime observation of the moon Deimos.

Sol 79, which ends at 9:43 a.m. on March 24, 2004, will be a momentous day for Spirit's rock abrasion tool; it will complete brushings on two Mazatzal targets.

Daily Update - 3/22/04
One Step Closer
Spirit Status for sol 77

Spirit woke up on sol 77, which ended at 8:24 a.m. PST on March 22, 2004, to "One Step Closer" by the Doobie Brothers, since the rover was to make its final approach to the rock target named "Mazatzal" today.

Before beginning the .9-meter (2.95 feet) drive to Mazatzal, Spirit analyzed the soil target "Soil 1" at its current location with the microscopic imager and Moessbauer spectrometer. During the Moessbauer integration, Spirit also took panoramic camera images and performed miniature thermal emission spectrometer analysis of the atmosphere and Mazatzal work area.

At 1:25 p.m. Mars Local Solar Time, Spirit completed the Moessbauer integration, took a few microscopic imager images of the impression left on "Soil 1" by the Moessbauer spectrometer and then stowed the instrument arm. Spirit then proceeded the short distance toward Mazatzal and took hazard avoidance camera images to confirm that its final resting place put the intended rock targets in reach of the instrument arm.

Following the drive, the rover acquired more panoramic camera and mini thermal emission spectrometer observations of the atmosphere, and of interesting areas near the Mazatzal site including targets named "Sandbox," "Saber" and "Darksands."

Spirit finished up sol 77 by getting the mini thermal emission spectrometer in position for morning observations on sol 78.

Spirit will spend most of Sol 78, which will end at 9:04 a.m. PST on March 23, analyzing Mazatzal with the instruments on the robotic arm.

Daily Update - 3/22/04
Opportunity Leaves the Nest
Opportunity Status for sol 57

After a slightly slippery start yestersol, Opportunity made it out of "Eagle Crater" on sol 57, which ends at 8:45 p.m. PST on March 22. The drive along the crater's inner slope that was initiated on the last sol continued this sol until Opportunity exited its landing-site crater. Images from the navigation camera confirm that the rover is about 9 meters (about 29.5 feet) outside of the crater.

The rover also conducted remote sensing observations between naps this sol. After completing the drive out of the crater, the navigation camera imaged Opportunity's brand new view of the plains of Meridiani Planum.

During the martian night, rover planners will awaken Opportunity to take miniature thermal emission spectrometer observations of the ground and the atmosphere.

The song chosen to motivate Opportunity to move up and out of the crater was "If You Don't Get it the First Time, Back Up and Try it Again" by the JBs and Fred Wesley.

Daily Update - 3/21/04
Try Again to Exit Crater
Opportunity Status for sol 56

NASA's Opportunity tried driving uphill out of its landing-site crater during its 56th sol, ending at 10:05 p.m. March 21, PST, but slippage prevented success. The rover is healthy, and it later completed a turn to the right and a short drive along the crater's inner slope. Controllers plan to send it on a different route for exiting the crater on sol 57.

Earlier on sol 56, Opportunity successfully examined a patch of soil dubbed "Brian's Choice" with its Moessbauer spectrometer, alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and microscopic imager. Following the drive, it made observations with its navigation camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Wake-up music for the sol was "Fly Like an Eagle," by the Steve Miller Band.

Daily Update - 3/20/04
Sightseeing at Sweet Spots
Opportunity Status for sol 54

Opportunity flipped 115 meters (377.3 feet) on its odometer during the latest drives along the current soil survey campaign, surpassing the total drive distance of 1997's Sojourner rover. After performing a "touch and go" sequence at the third soil target south of the Challenger Memorial Station, Opportunity moved east to its fourth target. There the rover used its wheels to dig a trench that will be studied in coming sols.

The sol, which ended at 6:46 p.m. PST on March 19, started with brief alpha particle X-ray and Moessbauer spectrometer measurements on the soil target known as "Coconut2." These were followed by two sets of microscopic imager shots of Coconut2 and "ChocolateChip." The rover then stowed its arm and drove.

Remote sensing with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and the panoramic camera remote sensing was performed before, during, and after the drive and trenching activities. Also, Opportunity took additional images with its navigation camera imaging in preparation for next sol's drive to the final site inside the crater.

To prepare for the trenching on this sol, the wake-up song was "I Feel The Earth Move" by Carole King.

Daily Update - 3/19/04
'Stub Toes' Won't Stop Spirit
Spirit Status for sol 74

Spirit began the morning of Sol 74, which ended at 6:25 a.m. PST on March 19, 2004, by completing an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration on the target "Panda," inside the scuff on "Serpent" drift. Then Spirit placed the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer back down on the target "Polar" for a 30-minute integration. During that integration, Spirit took some images of disturbed soil with the panoramic camera, and acquired some ground temperatures with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Spirit then switched the tools on its robotic arm to the Moessbauer spectrometer for an hour-long integration on Polar. During that integration, the rover took some sky and ground measurements with the mini thermal emission spectrometer. Spirit finished its arm activities for the day by acquiring three microscopic images of Polar and three more of Panda.

Starting around 12:35 p.m. Mars Local Solar time, Spirit made a direct drive of about six meters (19.7 feet) to another section of the Serpent drift complex, called "Stub Toe." There the rover repeatedly scuffed the drift and advanced .15 meters (half a foot) in a series of five "scuff and drives." After the five scuffs and advances were made, Spirit roved forward another 3 meters (9.8 feet) and then looked back over its shoulder using the mini thermal emission spectrometer and navigation cameras to analyze the damage. The rover continued along the Bonneville crater rim with a 16-meter direct drive, and then an auto-navigation drive for 9 meters (29.5 feet). Spirit completed a final set of drives to set up for a touch and go on sol 75 at around 2:10 p.m. Mars Local Solar time. The total amount of driving for sol 74 was an impressive 34.3 meters (112.5 feet).

Spirit then took navigation camera and panoramic camera images of the drive directions for planning the sol 75 traverse. The rover acquired some mini thermal emission spectrometer reconnaissance images and then took a 30-minute siesta before the afternoon Odyssey relay pass. During that pass, Spirit used the mini thermal emission spectrometer to acquire a sky profile and ground temperature observations.

On sol 75, which will end at 7:05 a.m. PST on March 20, 2004, Spirit will place the microscopic imager on a soil target and drive about 22 meters (72.2 feet) around the Bonneville crater rim. Spirit will also conduct atmospheric observations with the mini thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera.

Daily Update - 3/18/04
Two Down, Three to Go
Opportunity Status for sol 53

On sol 53, which ends at 6:07 p.m. PST on March 18, Opportunity first completed the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer work from yestersol and then continued to study the second soil survey target with the Moessbauer spectrometer.

Following an afternoon nap, the rover used its microscopic imager to get close-up views of the soil. Opportunity then made its way to the third soil target, which involved a 5-meter (about 16 feet) drive. The alpha particle X-ray spectrometer was then positioned to examine the magnet arrays. Preparations were also made to conduct a miniature thermal emission spectrometer observation of the martian sky at dawn on the next sol.

"Ice Cream Man" by John Brim woke Opportunity this sol to remind it of the possible sweet treats that await at targets referred to as "Chocolate Chip" and "Coconut" in the neighborhood dubbed "Mudpie."

The soil survey will continue in the coming sols.

Daily Update - 3/18/04
Scrutinizing the Soil
Opportunity Status for sol 52

Sol 52, which ended at 5:27 p.m. PST on March 17, was a full day for Opportunity, punctuated by short naps. The rover arm was deployed on the first of five targets in the rover's current soil survey. The soil was examined by all the rover's spectrometers and the panoramic camera.

In the afternoon, the rover moved about 6 meters (about 20 feet) to the second soil target, performing several remote observations along the way. Closing out the sol, Opportunity's alpha particle X-ray spectrometer began to inspect the capture magnets on the front of the rover. Clues about Mars' watery history are present even in the smallest dust grains that settle on these magnet arrays.

Images of Opportunity's "scuff" experiment on the rock "Carousel" reached Earth this sol. Scientists are currently examining the results.

In honor of Opportunity's 52nd sol on Mars, engineers chose "Rock Lobster" by the B52s as a wake-up tune.

In the coming sols, the rover will travel to the final targets in the soil survey.

Daily Update - 3/18/04
A Close-Up of 'Serpent'
Spirit Status for sol 73

Spirit spent most of sol 73, which ended at 5:46 a.m. PST on March 18, 2004, analyzing targets in the drift dubbed "Serpent" with the microscopic imager. But before the close-ups began, Spirit acquired miniature thermal emission spectrometer inertia measurements on a disturbed area of soil. It also captured panoramic camera images of the scuffed area, dubbed "Bear Paw," the wheel that did the digging, and a nearby rock target named "White Elephant."

The microscopic imager work began at 11:00 am Mars Local Solar Time and was targeted at four points within the scuffed area on Serpent. The targets were given the bear-type names of Polar, Spectacled, Kodiak and Panda. For each target, seven microscopic images were taken to assure proper focus. At the Spectacled and Kodiak targets, a microscopic image with the filter in place was also taken for pseudo-color. Then the Moessbauer was placed on Panda and started an overnight integration. The arm activities were completed by about noon Mars Local Solar time, and were followed by the second thermal inertia measurement on the disturbed soil.

The rover took a siesta until 1:00 p.m. Mars Local Solar time, and then woke up for a series of mini thermal emission spectrometer observations on the rocks named "White Elephant," "Fruitcake," and "Dihedral." Then the third and last thermal inertia measurement was taken on the disturbed soil.

Spirit took another quick nap in the afternoon, and then completed sky measurements with the mini thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera.

Spirit will have an early start on sol 74, which will end at 6:25 a.m. PST March 19, 2004. Sol 74 will include a tool change to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and the beginning of an integration on the drift target named Panda. Before the sol is over, Spirit will also analyze an undisturbed area of the Serpent drift before continuing to drive around the rim of "Bonneville" crater.

Daily Update - 3/17/04
Spirit Digs with a Jig
Spirit Status for sol 72

Sol 72, which ended at 5:06 a.m. PST on March 17, was a day full of digging for NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit. Spirit began the day taking panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer observations of the drift dubbed "Serpent" before creating the "scuff" that would reveal the inside material at this location.

Then it was time to get into position. The rover drove about two-and-a-half meters (8.2 feet) to put the left front wheel up onto the drift. It then turned right and left five degrees to dig the left front wheel into the drift. When the "shimmy" was complete, Spirit backed 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) out of the hole. The digging and backing process was repeated four times to thoroughly scuff Serpent's side. Then Spirit backed up another meter (3.28 feet) to attain miniature thermal emission spectrometer, panoramic camera and navigation camera observations of the scuffed area. These observations will aid in in-situ target selection. To prepare for the upcoming in-situ work, Spirit drove forward 0.4 meters (1.3 feet) for additional imaging, and then drove forward a final 0.45 meters (1.5 feet) to put the scuff in the arm work volume.

Spirit spent the rest of the day obtaining navigation camera and panoramic camera observations of the intended drive direction around part of the crater rim. Spirit will do some work overnight, taking miniature thermal emission spectrometer thermal inertia and atmosphere measurements.

On sol 73, which will end at 5:46 a.m. PST on March 18, Spirit will conduct extensive microscopic imaging of sections of the drift, and run an overnight Moessbauer and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration.

Daily Update - 3/16/04
'Scuff' and Go
Opportunity Status for sol 51

Opportunity reached the first of five targets in its current soil survey on the rover's 51st sol on Mars. The sol, which ended at 4:47 p.m. PST on March 16, began with a salute to the rover's intended target on the southern face of the crater it has been exploring since its early sols on Mars. "Song of the South" by Alabama was chosen to wake Opportunity for a busy sol that involved a 15-meter (49.2 feet) u-shaped drive toward the soil target.

Before the rover ventured away from the outcrop that has been the focus for most of its mission, alpha particle x-ray spectrometer observations were completed on the red rind dubbed "Shark's Tooth." The arm was stowed before Opportunity "scuffed" the rock "Carousel" with its front left wheel. Results of the experiment were imaged as Opportunity backed up and prepared to drive away from the outcrop.

Backing down toward the center of the crater and then arcing around the Challenger Memorial Station, Opportunity ultimately drove back up the slope to a position fairly close to the rim. On its way to the current soil target, the rover was also able to image the trench it dug on sol 23 from a different angle.

In the coming sols, Opportunity will use the instruments on its arm to examine all five soil targets identified for the soil survey.

Daily Update - 3/16/04
Steering to 'Serpent'
Spirit Status for sol 71

Spirit began sol 71, which ended at 4:26 a.m. PST March 16, 2004, with a morning nap to re-charge after the record-breaking number of activities it accomplished on sol 70. After that, it was back to work. Spirit began by retracting the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, closing the doors, and imaging the doors with the front hazard avoidance cameras to confirm that they were closed. Spirit then proceeded to observe a soil target with the microscopic imager, and it also used the panoramic camera to observe the magnets, do a sky survey and capture a dust devil movie.

Then it was time to drive. Spirit completed a 15-meter (49.2 feet) blind drive followed by a 3-meter (9.8 feet) auto-navigation drive around the south rim of "Bonneville" crater toward a drift named "Serpent." Once there, Spirit completed post-drive science observations and a miniature thermal emission spectrometer study of the atmosphere, ground and future drive direction.

Spirit's main objective on sol 72, which ends at 5:06 a.m. PST March 17, 2004, will be to disturb and analyze the material at Serpent. Spirit will drive over the dune and back up to an optimal observation position. It will then analyze the area with the panoramic camera and mini thermal emission spectrometer. Spirit will end the sol by driving back on top of the dune.

Daily Update - 3/15/04
Finishing up at the Outcrop
Opportunity Status for sol 50

On sol 50, which ended at 4:08 p.m. PST on March 15, Opportunity got closer to completing its observations of the rock outcrop. The rover arm, with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer at the ready, was placed on the rock called "Shark's Tooth" for a 30-minute observation. The microscopic imager then took a series of pictures of the targets "Enamel 1" and "Lamination." The focus then switched back to "Shark's Tooth" for an examination by the Moessbauer spectrometer.

The song chosen to awaken Opportunity was "The Dentist" by Bill Cosby, in honor of the toothy targets in "Shark's Cage."

The sol also included many panoramic camera observations of targets with creative names like "Patio Rug," "Anaconda Snake Den," "West Zen Garden" and "Garter Snake."

The next sol calls for a final experiment at the outcrop called "scuffing." "Scuffing" essentially turns one of the rover wheels into a tool to scrape a rock to help determine its hardness. The rock "Carousel" will be scraped by Opportunity's front left wheel. After that experiment, the rover will begin its trans-crater traverse to five soil survey targets, the first of which will lead Opportunity up the sandy southern face of the crater.

Daily Update - 3/15/04
Spirit's Busiest Day
Spirit Status for sol 70

Spirit began what would be a very busy sol 70, which ended at 3:47 a.m. PST March 15, by analyzing a soil target dubbed "Gobi 1" with the Moessbauer spectrometer. This was the first of 43 observations that Spirit would complete on sol 70, breaking the previous observation record of 31 observations in one sol.

After the successful Moessbauer integration, Spirit took panoramic camera images of the sky. Then the miniature thermal emission spectrometer analyzed rock and soil targets. Following this, Spirit turned its panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer to a range surface and atmospheric observations. Before the sol ended, Spirit also took microscopic images of the Moessbauer footprint left on the soil target and switched instruments to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer for a long integration starting early on sol 71 at the "Gobi 1" location.

Spirit will spend Sol 71, which will end at 4:26 a.m. PST March 16, completing the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer analysis, taking panoramic camera images and microscopic imager images of the area, and then driving 15 meters (49.2 feet) to a location dubbed "Serpent Dune" in the afternoon.

Daily Update - 3/14/04
Shark Ahead
Opportunity Status for sol 48

NASA's Opportunity finished inspecting the "Berry Bowl" site and drove 10 meters (33 feet) toward a new target during its 48th sol on Mars, which ended at 2:50 p.m. Saturday, PST.

The rover used all four tools on its arm during the morning, ending with a brushing by the rock abrasion tool, then post-brushing examinations with the microscope and alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. This closed out three sols of work at "Berry Bowl" to compare the composition of targets with and without groups of the BB-sized spherules believed to have formed while the local environment was wet.

Opportunity then stowed its arm and drove toward an area dubbed "Shoemaker's Patio" at the southwestern end of the outcrop the rover has been studying since it arrived on Mars. This informal name pays tribute to the late geologist Dr. Eugene Shoemaker of the U.S. Geological Survey. Opportunity's more specific target is a rock called "Shark's Tooth" at the near edge of the patio. The drive did not quite put that target within reach of the robot arm. Activities of the sol also included atmospheric observations with the panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer, plus post-drive imaging with the navigation camera.

Mission controllers at JPL chose John Williams' "Jaws: Main Title and Fist Victim" as the wake-up song for sol 48.

Plans for sol 49, ending at 3:28 p.m. Sunday PST, call for finishing the approach to "Shark's Tooth" after a morning examination of the ground right in front of the rover. Inspection of "Shark's Tooth" with tools on the robotic arm is planned for sol 50.

Daily Update - 3/14/04
New Panorama on Board
Spirit Status for sol 69

During its 69th sol on Mars, ending at 3:07 a.m. Sunday, PST, NASA's Spirit finished shooting frames with its panoramic camera for a full 360-degree color view of the surroundings visible from the crater rim where the rover is perched. Once the panorama frames are transmitted to Earth, scientists will use them and information from Spirit's miniature thermal emission spectrometer to assess the structures and composition of the crater interior and other surfaces in view.

Spirit did not move from its vantage point on the south rim of the crater nicknamed "Bonneville." An extra downlink session was added via relay by NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter to accelerate getting the panoramic imaging data to Earth. The total amount of data received from Spirit during the sol through relays and direct-to-Earth transmission was 225 megabits.

In the martian afternoon, Spirit added a set of observations with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer in coordination with overhead passage of NASA's Mars Global Surveyor orbiter, which carries a similar spectrometer looking down. Events of the sol also included two camera sessions requested by engineers. The first was to get high-resolution images of Spirit's heat shield on the northern rim of "Bonneville." The other was to photograph wheel tracks to help rover mobility specialists assess slippage. For sol 69's wake-up music, the team spun John Lennon's "Watching the Wheels."

Plans for sol 70, ending at 3:47 a.m. Monday, PST, feature more remote sensing from the rover's current location, before a drive along the rim begins on sol 71.

Daily Update - 3/13/04
Spirit Sits Still for Science
Spirit Status for sol 68

Spirit spent all of sol 68, which ended at 2:28 a.m. PST on March 13, 2004, at the "Bonneville" crater location. It began the morning operating the panoramic camera to acquire the first images of what will be a 360-degree shot of "Bonneville's" rim and basin, and the "Columbia Hills" to the southeast.

Spirit also moved the instrument deployment device, or rover arm, into position to acquire panoramic camera images of the magnets on the rock abrasion tool. It then placed the Moessbauer spectrometer on soil for a short integration after taking five microscopic imager images.

Around 13:35 Mars Local Solar time, one of Mars' moons, Deimos, passed in front of the sun. Scientists and rover controllers took this opportunity to image the moon's transit with the panoramic camera before completing mini thermal emission spectrometer observations of the crater interior.

Spirit's work isn't over though. The Moessbauer will continue analyzing the soil at "Bonneville's" rim through the night.

Sol 69, which will end at 3:07 a.m. PST on March 14, 2004, will also be a no-drive sol during which Spirit will acquire the second half of the 360-degree panoramic camera image of Bonneville. Spirit will also perform remote sensing of the inside of the crater and analyze soil targets with the Moessbauer and alpha particle x-ray spectrometer.

Daily Update - 3/12/04
Aiming for Shark's Tooth
Opportunity Status for sol 47

On sol 47, which ended at 2:10 p.m. PST on Friday March 12, Opportunity awoke to "No Particular Place to Go" by Chuck Berry in recognition of the stay at "Berry Bowl." Engineers also played "That's Amore" by Dean Martin in honor of the Phobos moon's transit across the sky.

Opportunity finished remnants of activities from the past sol's research at "Berry Bowl." The sol started with the hazard avoidance camera taking a picture of the "Berry Bowl" area as a context picture. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer then performed some "sky stares" of the atmosphere. At 11:30 Local Solar Time, the robotic arm started moving. It picked up the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and moved to a new location nearby, then switched to the Moessbauer spectrometer. Both spectrometers are searching for clues about the chemical composition of the mysterious "blueberries."

Later, Opportunity took panoramic camera images of the suite magnet on the rover itself, which is collecting atmospheric dust samples to understand why the martian dust is so magnetic. The panoramic camera also took images of a target dubbed "Fool's Silver," which contains an interesting angular feature in the outcrop.

After all the morning's hard work, Opportunity took a short siesta to rest and recharge. Opportunity reawakened a few hours later to take more images of the atmosphere with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera. Those were taken in the same locations as the morning measurements to compare the atmospheric data throughout the sol.

At 15:40 Local Solar Time, Opportunity took about a dozen images of the Sun to catch the eclipse by the martian moon, Phobos. Opportunity once again shut down for a nap and woke up at 4:53 Local Solar Time, sol 48, for a tool change and a communications session with the Odyssey orbiter. While the rover was awake for the Odyssey pass, the rover heated up the robotic arm, which had chilled to almost -80 degrees Celsius (-112 degrees Fahrenheit). The motors cannot move at that frigid temperature, so the rover arm heated for 32 minutes to surpass the operational temperature of 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). As the rover arm quickly cooled, the heat lasted long enough (5 minutes) for the arm to twist its wrist and change instruments from the Moessbauer spectrometer back to the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

The rest of the plan for sol 48, which will end at 2:49 p.m. PST on Saturday, March 13, is to perform quite a few complicated maneuvers. Opportunity plans to brush an area with the rock abrasion tool, analyze the brushed area with the spectrometers, then drive 10 meters (33 feet) along the slippery slopes of the outcrop to "Shark's Tooth" in "Shoemaker's Patio."

Daily Update - 3/12/04
Spirit is 'On Top of the World'
Spirit Status for sol 67

Spirit woke up on sol 67, which ended at 1:48 a.m. PST March 12, 2004, to "On Top of the World" by the Carpenters. The song was fitting, as yestersols’s drive put Spirit at the rim of "Bonneville" crater, but it took some additional maneuvering to get the rover perfectly placed for the 360-degree panoramic camera images it will take on upcoming sols.

Before beginning the sol 67 drive, Spirit completed an overnight alpha particle x-ray spectrometer integration and a couple of small panoramic camera shots of its surroundings.

Then the rover traveled 13 meters (42.7 feet) in a direct drive around some obstacles followed by a 1.4-meter (4.6 feet) automatic navigation drive. Spirit spent the afternoon using the mini thermal emission spectrometer to look at targets that will be analyzed more fully on sol 67, and then driving 0.9 meters (3 feet) forward to be able to access that area with the arm tomorrow.

Spirit put a total of 24.8 meters (81.4 feet) on the odometer today, partly due to some back and forth maneuvering it had to do to ensure a safe path. The final location has proven to be just right, and Spirit will stay put for a couple sols while it continues to investigate "Bonneville" crater.

Before the day was over, Spirit looked at the sun for an attitude update and then took front hazard avoidance camera images of the arm work volume, and a small navigation panorama of the crater. The rover also completed some mini thermal emission spectrometer analysis of the far side of the crater and finished the day with some panoramic camera images of the sunset.

On sol 68, which will end at 2:28 a.m. PST March 13, 2004, Spirit will begin a two-sol panoramic camera session and complete selected mini thermal emission spectrometer observations. The rover will also begin a very long Moessbauer integration on a soil target.

Daily Update - 3/11/04
Spirit is "Livin' on the Edge"
Spirit Status for sol 66

Aerosmith wrote the song "Livin' on the Edge" long before Spirit reached the edge of Bonneville crater, and probably never imagined it would be the wake-up song for a rover on Mars. But its words are appropriate. After a 21-meter (68.9 feet) drive and an elevation gain of 1.5 meters (4.9 feet), Spirit is in fact at the edge of Bonneville crater.

Spirit began Sol 66, which ended at 1:09 a.m. PST March 11, 2004, by taking a look back at the lander with the panoramic camera, and then analyzing selected ground targets. At about 11:30 a.m. Gusev time, Spirit began a 30-minute directed drive of 16 meters (52.5 feet). It then turned right for a final auto-navigation drive that was intended for 6 meters (19.7 feet), but resulted in about 4 meters (13.1 feet). That drive put Spirit in perfect position to look inside "Bonneville" crater and send back stunning images from the navigation camera.

The camera mast was then positioned for a nighttime sky observation of the Orion Constellation. During NASA's Mars Global Surveyor pass tomorrow morning, the navigation camera and panoramic camera will take images of the Orion Constellation using long exposure times.

On Sol 67, which will end at 1:48 a.m. PST March 12, 2004, Spirit will drive about 14 meters (46 feet) to a better vantage point on the crater rim and continue to investigate "Bonneville" with the panoramic and navigation cameras.

Daily Update - 3/11/04
Bery Nice News
Opportunity Status for sol 46

On sol 46, which ended at 1:30 p.m. PST on Thursday, March 11, Opportunity awoke at 9:20 Local Solar Time to two songs in honor of researching the mysterious "blueberries" with the instruments on the robotic arm. The wake-up songs were "Berry Nice News" by Raffi and "Huckling the Berries" by Country Cooking.

Opportunity performed a series of activities including microscopic imaging of the berries and placing the Moessbauer spectrometer on the berries to analyze their chemical composition. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer later made multiple atmospheric observations. After a short nap to conserve energy, Opportunity awoke in the afternoon to perform some additional remote sensing observations and to transmit data to Earth via the Odyssey orbiter.

Later in the evening Local Solar Time, Opportunity collected data with its alpha particle X-ray spectrometer at two locations.

The plan for sol 47, which will end at 2:10 p.m. PST on Friday, March 12 is to continue analyzing the blueberries and the "Berry Bowl." By early next week, Opportunity will drive to a new area dubbed "Shoemaker's Patio."

Daily Update - 3/10/04
Halfway Mark
Opportunity Status for sol 45

On sol 45, which ended at 12:50 p.m. PST on Wednesday, March 10, Opportunity awoke to ''Eclipse" by Pink Floyd in recognition of the transit of the martian moon, Phobos. A second song, "Meet Me Halfway" by Kenny Loggins, was played because Opportunity is halfway through its primary 90-sol surface mission.

Opportunity used the rock abrasion tool brush to sweep off the dirt in and around the hole at "Mojo 2" in the "Flat Rock" area. Opportunity then took five microscopic images of the freshly brushed "Mojo 2."

The miniature thermal emission spectrometer took measurements at three locations on the surface of Mars, and then pointed upwards to observe the atmosphere in four different directions. The panoramic camera was also busy taking images of the magnets around the rock abrasion tool area, "Mojo 2" post brushing, and a new area called "Slick Rock."

The plan for sol 46, which will end at 1:30 p.m. PST on Thursday, March 11, is to use the science instruments on the end of the robotic arm on the area dubbed "Berry Bowl."

Daily Update - 3/10/04
Roving Toward the Rim
Spirit Status for sol 65

Spirit spent sol 65, which ended at 12:29 a.m. PST on March 10, analyzing soil targets with the alpha particle x-ray spectrometer, Moessbauer spectrometer and microscopic imager before stowing its arm, doing some remote sensing of the trench dubbed Serendipity Trench," and then finally setting off for the longest directed drive to date. That drive was 27 meters (88.6 feet) toward the edge of Bonneville" crater.

Spirit then attempted to use auto navigation to reach a target that was an additional 6 meters (19.7 feet) away. Sensitive obstacle avoidance software prevented Spirit from reaching the destination, and like yestersol, the rover completed several drives forward and back. Those drives resulted in a final odometer reading of 40.7 meters (133.5 feet) for the day, even though the total straight-line distance traveled was 30 meters (98.4 feet).

The 30-meter (98.4 feet) drive put Spirit close enough to Bonneville's" edge to take images with the navigation cameras that reveal the opposite rim of the crater.

On sol 66, which ends at 1:09 a.m. PST on March 11, 2004, Spirit will drive up to the summit of the rim and show us what's inside with a 180-degree navigation camera panorama.

Daily Update - 3/9/04
Back to the Grind
Opportunity Status for sol 44

On Opportunity's 44th sol, ending at 12:10 p.m. PST on Tuesday, March 9, the rock abrasion tool ground a 3.1 millimeter-deep (just over one-tenth of an inch) hole in the "Mojo 2" target on "Flatrock." Yesterday, diagnostic testing determined a voltage adjustment was necessary to overcome some mechanism "stickiness" in the routine during which the rock abrasion tool finds the highest point in the target area.

The routine worked perfectly on this grind with the new voltage setting. After one hour and five minutes of successful grinding, the rock abrasion tool grind motor stalled, probably while grinding into one of the spherules also known as "blueberries." These objects are known to obstruct the grinding tool and cause it to terminate its sequence.

Late in the martian morning, the Moessbauer spectrometer was placed on the hole, followed later by the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer took two long atmospheric measurements. The panoramic camera was busy taking images of the hole as well as surrounding target areas.

The wake-up songs were "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)" by Janis Joplin for the rock abrasion tool's second attempt at "Mojo 2," and "X-ray Eyes" by Kiss for the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer.

Daily Update - 3/9/04
Spirit Reaches the 300-Meter Mark!
Spirit Status for sol 64

Spirit completed another 29 meters (94 feet) of its drive toward the rim of "Bonneville" crater on sol 64, which ended at 11:49 p.m. PST, bringing its total odometry to 314 meters (1,030 feet) -- 14 meters (45.9 feet) past the minimum mission success criterion.

Spirit began the morning with an 18-meter (59 feet) direct drive that safely maneuvered the rover through a field of rocks. Spirit then traversed 11 more meters (35 feet) using autonomous navigation and at 11:30 a.m. Mars Local Solar Time completed the drive. Spirit had some difficulty finding a way around an obstacle during the last portion of the commanded drive. That resulted in some repeated forward and backward maneuvering which left an interesting "trench" for scientists to have the rover peer into.

Spirit is climbing up a very steep part of "Bonneville" now, and ended this sol's drive tilted at a forward pitch of about 15 degrees.

For the next sol, the plan was to have Spirit perform some mini-thermal emission spectrometer sky and ground observations before waking up to do a touch-and-go and drive again!

Daily Update - 3/8/04
More Mojo
Opportunity Status for sol 43

On sol 43, which ended at 11:31 a.m. PST on Monday, March 8, Opportunity awoke to ''You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)" by Bruce Springsteen in recognition of the fact that the rock abrasion tool grind did not touch the surface of its rock target on sol 42.

Using a combination of microscopic images, hazard avoidance camera images, and rock abrasion tool tests on sol 43, Opportunity’s engineering team discovered that the grind motor of the rock abrasion tool on Mars stalled prematurely during what’s called the "seek/scan" phase when the rock abrasion tool instrument searches for the rock face. This resulted in no contact during the actual grind activity on sol 42. The most likely causes of the stall are dust and dirt accumulations and temperature variations on the instrument. The tests also confirmed that engineers can safely increase the motor voltage on the instrument to prevent a future stall.

In the process of conducting the rock abrasion tool activities, Opportunity placed the Moessbauer spectrometer on "Mojo 2," a target on "Flat Rock."

The remainder of the sol included preparations for the future target in this area, dubbed "Berry Bowl," taking pictures with the panoramic and navigation cameras. Opportunity also took ground and atmospheric measurements with the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

The plan for sol 44, which ends at 12:10 p.m. PST on Tuesday, March 9 is to grind into "Mojo 2" using the rock abrasion tool and then to research the rock’s chemical composition using the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and the Moessbauer spectrometer.

Daily Update - 3/7/04
Rolling Along
Spirit Status for sol 62

During its 62nd sol on Mars, ending at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, PST, NASA's Spirit advanced about one-fifth of the remaining distance between where it began the sol and its mid-term destination, the rim of the crater nicknamed "Bonneville." In the martian afternoon, Spirit took images and infrared readings of the area right in front of its stopping place to support the following morning's close-up inspection of that new location with instruments on the rover's robotic arm.

Spirit drove 26.15 meters (85.8 feet) on sol 62, bringing its odometer total to 250.71 meters (822.5 feet). Some of the drive maneuvered around obstacles. The net gain in the northeasterly direction toward the crater rim was 22 meters (72 feet), and that destination was estimated to be about 88 meters (289 feet) away from Spirit's new location. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer was used for ground and sky observations both before and after the drive.

The wake-up song for the sol was "My First Trip to Mars," by Atticus Fault.

For sol 63, ending at 11:10 p.m. Sunday, PST, Spirit's agenda is to drive on toward the crater rim after using the microscope and spectrometers on its arm to inspect the site where it wakes up.

Daily Update - 3/6/04
Leaving Middle Ground
Spirit Status for sol 61

After more than a week of camping and field work at "Middle Ground," NASA's Spirit took a few last pictures from there then drove onward to the northeast on sol 61, which ended at 9:51 p.m. Friday, PST. In the martian morning, Spirit's panoramic camera took the final frames needed for the camera team to assemble a full-circle color panorama after all the data reaches Earth.

In the early afternoon, Spirit backed up 0.5 meter (20 inches), then edged forward 0.29 meters (11 inches) to sidestep a rock called "Ingrid." Then the rover advanced 28.5 meters (94 feet) toward its crater-rim destination. The drive took 45 minutes. From the new location, Spirit took forward-looking pictures for use in future drive planning. It also observed the ground and the sky with its miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

For the sol's theme tune in the morning, controllers at JPL played "Motor Away" by Guided by Voices.

Continued driving toward the crater nicknamed "Bonneville" is the plan for Spirit's 62nd sol, ending at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, PST.

Daily Update - 3/6/04
Precision Driving after Mid-Sol Science
Opportunity Status for sol 41

In its 41st sol on Mars, ending at 10:02 a.m. Saturday, PST, NASA's Opportunity inspected a rock target called "Wave Ripple" with tools on its arm, then drove to a new target. The new target, "Flat Rock," is in the "Slick Rock" area near the south end of the outcrop that the rover has been examining for weeks.

Although the rover wheels slip some in the local soil and the drive traversed a slope of 10 to 11 percent, Opportunity and engineers at JPL navigated the trip so well that a planned final approach to the target on sol 42 could be cancelled. The target is within the work volume of Opportunity's robotic arm. The drive was done in a series of one-meter (3.3-foot) segments making up a U-shaped path to the south and west. Each segment included a correction for slippage.

Before starting the drive, Opportunity used its microscope for 50 images of "Wave Ripple," and examined the composition of the rock with its alpha proton X-ray spectrometer and its Moessbauer spectrometer.

Rover controllers spun Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" as the sol's wake-up song, and used a compressed planning schedule as practice for procedures that might become standard after the 90-sol prime mission.

Plans for sol 42, ending at 10:51 a.m. Sunday, PST, include using the rock abrasion tool at "Flat Rock."

Daily Update - 3/4/04
Ready to Hit the Road Again
Spirit Status for sol 60

Spirit completed its observations at "Middle Ground" on its 60th martian sol, ending at 9:11 p.m., PST on March 4. Waking up to "Pictures to Prove It," by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Spirit finished gathering data from the rock abrasion tool hole on "Humphrey" with the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer and the microscopic imager.

The panoramic camera then continued to acquire more images for the 360-degree view from the current rover position at "Middle Ground."

After backing up 0.85 meters (about 2.8 feet), the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera had their turn to collect data and images from both of the rock abrasion tool's latest efforts on "Humphrey" - the triple-brushed area and the depression.

As of this sol, Spirit has traveled 195.24 meters (about 641 feet).

Plans for next sol include backing up and turning to avoid "Ingrid," a 20-centimeter (about 8 inches) rock to the west of "Humphrey," and then driving approximately 25 meters (82 feet) toward "Bonneville" in the northeast. Spirit will also snap the final images that will make up the 360-degree panorama of "Middle Ground."

Daily Update - 3/4/04
An Armada of Arm Moves
Opportunity Status for sol 39

On sol 39, which ends at 8:52 a.m. PST on Thursday, March 4, Opportunity awoke to "Bad Moon Rising" by Creedence Clearwater Revival in honor of the eclipse caused by the martian moon Deimos. The science and engineering team built a whopping 490 commands to accomplish the most complex robotic arm operations on Mars yet. Opportunity took three mosaics on the area dubbed "Last Chance," using the microscopic imager, creating 128 images in over 200 arm moves. Each "frame" of these mosaics required multiple microscopic images. There are two reasons for this. First, the microscopic imager does not have auto-focus, so the team needed to have Opportunity take and return multiple images at each location at different distances from the rock to get at least one in focus. A second reason is that the team needed Opportunity to take an extra image at a slightly different angle for each frame to create the right conditions to build stereo and computer-generated graphics of the "topography" of the rock area up close. After about two-and-a-half hours of microscopic imager maneuvers, the robotic arm placed the Moessbauer spectrometer on a location at "Last Chance" called "Makar." Opportunity also used the panoramic camera to watch the rare solar crossing of the sun by the moon Diemos and took images of the sky in coordination with the European Space Agency’s orbiter at Mars, Mars Express. The plan for sol 40, which will end at 9:32 a.m. PST on Friday, March 5 is to continue taking microscopic images of the "Last Chance" area, then drive to a new location dubbed "The Dells."

Daily Update - 3/3/04
Rock Abrasion Tool Back in Action
Spirit Status for sol 59

Waking up to "One More Time" by The Real McCoy, Spirit completed a successful, 2 millimeter-deep grind (.08 inches) into a target slightly left of the depression it made yestersol during its abbreviated operation. A five-minute brush to clean the hole followed.

Completing the sol, which ended at 8:31 p.m. Wednesday, March 03, Spirit's arm then switched instruments so the Moessbauer spectrometer could examine "Humphrey's" new shallow cavity.

Before this sol's four-hour grinding, the microscopic imager and the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer finished observations of yestersol's rock abrasion tool depression. To document Spirit's current position - about halfway to the "Bonneville" crater rim - the panoramic camera snapped the first of several images that, together, will provide a 360-degree view.

Engineers identified the software issue that caused the rock abrasion tool to terminate its original planned grinding on sol 58. The minor bug will be fixed when new flight software is loaded at the end of March.

In the coming sols, Spirit will complete the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer observations of the rock abrasion tool hole and get an up-close view with the microscopic imager. The final images will be obtained for the full panoramic view of Spirit's current position. After miniature thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera observations of the hole are conducted, Spirit will continue on toward "Bonneville" crater.

Daily Update - 3/3/04
Opportunity Hits Pay Dirt
Opportunity Status for sol 38

On sol 38, which ended at 8:13 a.m. PST on Wednesday, March 3, Opportunity awoke to "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" by Creedence Clearwater Revival in honor of the confirmation that liquid water once flowed through the rocks at Meridiani Planum.

In the morning of sol 38, Opportunity observed the atmosphere with the panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer. Then, the rover turned the miniature thermal emission spectrometer to stare at the ground for science observations. Later, Opportunity took stereo microscopic images and Moessbauer spectrometer readings of the soil target dubbed "Pay Dirt."

In the early afternoon Local Solar Time, Opportunity stowed the rover arm, took a panoramic camera image of "Last Chance," and drove a very short distance of 0.4 meters (16 inches) toward "Last Chance" to prepare for the deployment of the robotic arm.

The proposed plan for sol 39, which will end at 8:52 a.m. PST on Thursday, March 4, is to start the morning by taking images of a rare solar transit of the martian moon, Deimos. The solar transit of Deimos causes a solar eclipse only twice per Mars year (one Mars year equals roughly two Earth years). Later in the sol, Opportunity is scheduled to take a microscopic panorama of the layers in the "Last Chance" rock formation.

Daily Update - 3/2/04
Grinding, Take Two
Spirit Status for sol 58

On sol 58, which ends at 7:52 p.m., PST on March 2, the planned four-hour rock abrasion tool grind of "Humphrey" was limited to only 20 minutes. The intricate slopes and cracks of the rock make it a challenging target for instruments. When sensors indicated a loss of contact with surface material, the software perceived a problem and the rock abrasion tool was moved away from the rock. Engineers are amending the software limits to duplicate the rock abrasion tool's earlier operation on the rock "Adirondack," giving a higher likelihood of successful completion on the next sol.

The morning began with the completion of the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer integration on the previously brushed area. The panoramic camera then took a multi-spectral observation of the nearby ground, followed by a Moessbauer spectrometer integration on the same area.

Spirit's Sol 58 wake-up song was "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by U2 to pay homage to its twin rover's amazing findings of water evidence at Meridiani Planum.

On sol 59, Spirit will attempt another rock abrasion tool grind on "Humphrey," followed by detailed observations of the hole.

Daily Update - 3/2/04
Let's Go to 'Last Chance'
Opportunity Status for sol 37

On sol 37, Opportunity woke up at 9:35 Local Solar Time to "Let's Go" by the Cars. Opportunity completed the miniature thermal emission spectrometer and panoramic camera surveys of the rock abrasion tool holes at "Guadalupe" and "McKittrick," then drove 4.25 meters (14 feet) to "Last Chance," ending the sol at 7:33 a.m. PST on Tuesday, March 2.

With the moves of a tango dancer, the drive was another intricate study in, and challenge of, driving on a slippery, steep slope.

The rover was directed to: turn right, go forward, turn right, take images of "Last Chance," turn right, go forward, turn left, go forward, turn right, take images of "Big Bend," go straight, turn left and go straight! Due to the challenges of driving and pirouetting on such a steep slope (as steep as 22 degrees) the rover found it difficult to maintain a perfectly straight course, and Opportunity came up shy and right of the "Last Chance" target by about 30 centimeters (about one foot).

The plan for sol 38, which will end at 8:13 a.m. PST on Wednesday, March 3 is to do a short drive again to get within arm's reach of "Last Chance." Once in place, Opportunity will use the science instruments on the end of the robotic arm to analyze "Last Chance."

Daily Update - 3/1/04
Back to the Ol' Grind
Spirit Status for sol 57

During its 57th sol on Mars, ending at 7:12 PST on March 1, Spirit observed the area on "Humphrey" that was thrice brushed by the rock abrasion tool. An area just to the right of the brushed area, where the team intends to grind, was also examined.

The morning hours found Spirit using its alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on the intended grinding target to verify its similarity to the pre-brushed areas of the rock. The arm then switched out tools to the microscopic imager to get close-up views of the grinding target and the area to the right of it. The Moessbauer spectrometer was then placed on the brushed area for another observation.

Panoramic camera images were taken of the rock abrasion tool magnets to study dust accumulation. The miniature thermal emission spectrometer performed a diurnal characterization on the nearby soil. This allows scientists to look at the temperature difference from day to night, revealing information about particle sizes within the soil.

Next sol, the plan calls for Spirit to grind into "Humphrey" and then use its arsenal of instruments to analyze the interior of the rock.

Daily Update - 3/1/04
Moving On
Opportunity Status for sol 36

Opportunity woke up to Sting's "Rock Steady" on its 36th sol on Mars, which ended at 6:54 a.m. PST on Monday, March 1. The rover completed an overnight alpha particle X-ray spectrometer measurement on "Guadalupe," retracted its arm, placed the Moessbauer spectrometer on the calibration target and then stowed its arm.

A series of backward drives – away from the "El Capitan" site in the outcrop – were then conducted.

The rover also got in some remote sensing, including miniature thermal emission spectrometer observations and panoramic camera imaging of the holes created by the rock abrasion tool. In addition, the panoramic camera took images of a crater to the east.

The plan for the next sol involves several short drives in the direction of the "Last Chance" target in the "Big Bend" area of the outcrop.

Daily Update - 3/1/04
Grooming for the Grind
Spirit Status for sol 56

On sol 56, which ended at 6:33 p.m. PST, February 29, Spirit completed the .55-meter (1.8 feet) re-approach to "Humphrey" to get into position for grinding with the rock abrasion tool. After the repositioning, the rover took panoramic camera and miniature thermal emission spectrometer data of its rear tracks and the path in front of it, leading the way to "Bonneville" crater.

The wake-up song for the sol was "Walking On Sunshine," performed by Jump 5.

In the coming sols, Spirit will use its rock abrasion tool to grind into "Humphrey," observe the results with the instruments on its arm, and then continue on toward "Bonneville."

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