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Daily Update - 7/31/08
With Batteries Charged, Spirit is Ready for More Science
Spirit Status for sol 1621-1627

Spirit has fully recovered from a recent rundown in battery power. Energy has improved to levels not seen since sol (Martian day) 1604 (July 7, 2008). The hit in battery energy was primarily the result of data transmissions taking place later in the day, when less solar energy was available.

During the past week, rover planners eliminated the late communications sessions. Spirit is not scheduled to have another one until sol 1636 (Aug. 9, 2008). To mitigate the impact that one will have on power, rover planners plan to shorten the duration of data transmission from 20 minutes to only 10 minutes. This will allow sufficient time to get new instructions on board the rover while minimizing battery drain.

A transmitter problem thwarted data transmission on sol 1625 (July 29, 2008). The uplink from Earth was to have loaded activity plans and maintenance instructions for sols 1626, 1627, 1628 and 1629 (July 30-Aug. 2, 2008). The sequences already on board Spirit were designed with built-in contingency plans to handle just such an event. As a result, while Spirit continues the "runout" portion of the earlier master sequence, rover operators will send a new set of commands for sols 1630, 1631 and 1632 (Aug. 3-5, 2008) on sol 1629 (Aug. 2, 2008).

Spirit remains healthy, with all subsystems performing as expected as of sol 1626.

 

Sol-by-sol summary

In addition to using the panoramic camera to make daily measurements of dust-related changes in visibility, Spirit completed the following activities:

Sol 1621 (July 25, 2008): Spirit recharged the batteries.

Sol 1622: Spirit received instructions from Earth via the rover's high-gain antenna and relayed data to NASA's Odyssey orbiter via the rover's UHF antenna.

Sol 1623: Spirit acquired images of sand formations with the rear hazard-avoidance and navigation cameras. The rover took six, time-lapse, movie frames in search of clouds with the navigation camera, as well as images of the sky (called "sky flats") for calibration purposes.

Sol 1624: Spirit recharged the batteries.

Sol 1625: Spirit took spot images of the sky for calibration purposes with the panoramic camera and acquired movie frames in search of clouds with the navigation camera.

Sol 1626: Spirit completed a horizon survey with the panoramic camera and relayed data to Odyssey for transmission to Earth.

Sol 1627 (July 31, 2008): Spirit recharged the batteries.

 

Odometry

As of sol 1626 (July 30, 2008), Spirit’s total odometry remained at 7,528.0 meters (4.7 miles).



Daily Update - 7/24/08
Time to Recharge the Batteries
Spirit Status for sol 1615-1620

Spirit is recovering from a recent rundown in battery power. Over the last two weeks, Spirit's battery levels have steadily dropped by about 18 percent. The decrease appears to be a result of transmitting data to Earth later in the day and staying awake longer to accommodate extra science activities.

When Spirit sends transmissions late in the day, there's not enough sunlight left to recharge the batteries. As a consequence, each late uplink has contributed to an energy deficit.

Barring sudden changes in Martian temperature or atmospheric dust levels, engineers expect it may take as long as two weeks to recharge the batteries enough to resume work on the Bonestell panorama and other science activities.

Spirit remains healthy and all subsystems are operating as expected as of Martian day, or sol, 1618 (July 22, 2008).

 

Sol-by-sol summary

In addition to daily, panoramic-camera measurements of atmospheric opacity caused by dust, Spirit completed the following activities:

Sol 1615 (July 19, 2008): Spirit received new instructions from Earth via the rover's high-gain antenna.

Sol 1616: Spirit monitored dust accumulation on the panoramic-camera mast assembly.

Sol 1617: Spirit recharged the batteries.

Sol 1618: Spirit received instructions from Earth over the rover's high-gain antenna and relayed data to Earth via NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter.

Sol 1619: Spirit took spot images of the sky for calibration purposes with the panoramic camera and acquired movie frames in search of clouds with the navigation camera.

Sol 1620 (July 24, 2008): Spirit recharged the batteries.

 

Odometry

As of sol 1618 (July 22, 2008), Spirit’s total odometry remained at 7,528.0 meters (4.7 miles).



Daily Update - 7/23/08
Opportunity Fights Uphill Battle
Opportunity Status for sol 1593-1599

"Victoria Crater" continues to challenge Mars rover drivers as they try to find a location where Opportunity can do scientific studies of rocks near the "Cape Verde" cliff face. They have been trying to drive the rover to a location nicknamed “Nevada” after a rock shaped somewhat like the state of Nevada. Getting there, however, has been challenging.

After attempting unsuccessfully to drive the rover on steep slopes that caused the wheels to slip, they are aiming for a new location. They have identified a large flagstone to the left of Nevada that offers solid footing and a low amount of tilt. They hope to drive the rover there, re-evaluate the terrain, and re-assess whether it is possible to reach Nevada.

They are also working on a campaign to have Opportunity document different styles of weathering on local rocks. The rover, meanwhile, continues to measure argon gas in the Martian atmosphere and make other atmospheric observations.

Opportunity remains healthy, with all subsystems performing as expected as of the rover's 1,599th Martian day, or sol (July 23, 2008), of exploration. Solar energy on the vehicle has been averaging just under 360 watt-hours (100 watt-hours is the amount of energy needed to light a 100-watt bulb for one hour).

Sol-by-sol summary

In addition to making daily assessments of atmospheric dust based on the darkness of the sky as viewed by the panoramic camera and relaying data to NASA's Odyssey orbiter for transmission to Earth, Opportunity completed the following activities:

Sol 1593 (July 17, 2008): Opportunity drove and took post-drive images of the surrounding terrain with the hazard-avoidance and navigation cameras. After communicating with Odyssey, the rover went into a deep sleep.

Sol 1594: Opportunity spent 4 hours and 15 minutes integrating measurements of atmospheric argon with the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer. The rover went into a mini-deep sleep.

Sol 1595: Opportunity took full-color images, using all 13 filters of the panoramic camera, of rock exposures dubbed "Mawson," "Murchison," "Mackay," and "King." After sending data to to Odyssey, the rover went into a deep sleep.

Sol 1596: Opportunity monitored dust on the rover mast, drove, and took post-drive images with the hazard-avoidance and navigation cameras. After the day's activities, the rover went into a deep sleep.

Sol 1597: Opportunity took full-color images, using all 13 color filters of the panoramic camera, of rock exposures nicknamed "Playfair" and "Eugene_Smith." After relaying data to Earth, Opportunity went into a deep sleep.

Sol 1598: In the morning, Opportunity took four freeze-frame images with the navigation camera for a movie to document potential clouds. Following a short drive, Opportunity took images with the hazard-avoidance and navigation cameras. After sending data to Odyssey, the rover measured atmospheric argon with the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer.

Sol 1599 (July 23, 2008): Opportunity took more full-color, panoramic-camera images of Mackay and Mawson. Plans for the following morning called for Opportunity to take full-color images of Murchison.

Odometry

As of sol 1598 (July 22, 2008), Opportunity’s total odometry was 11,725.96 meters (7.29 miles).



Daily Update - 7/18/08
A Juggling Act
Spirit Status for sol 1608-1614

Winter planning for Spirit requires human operators to perform a complex juggling act to maintain overall rover health. They must manage engineering activities, such as receiving science and engineering data from Mars and sending new operation plans from Earth, as well as try to fit in science observations when possible. But they must also give the rover sufficient downtime between these activities to recharge the batteries. In recent months, the team's juggling skills have continued to improve.

Meanwhile, Mars has been helping out with steady temperatures and low levels of atmospheric dust, providing stability when it comes to allocating energy for heating and predicting the amount of sunlight reaching the rover's solar panels to generate electricity. Solar energy has been steady between 225 watt-hours to 230 watt-hours, of which about 65 to 75 watt-hours is required for heating the batteries and the miniature thermal emission spectrometer.

The overall state of charge on the battery has dropped slightly as a result of the timing of engineering and science activities. To restore the state of charge, the rover team will be making adjustments in upcoming plans.

Spirit is healthy and all subsystems are performing as expected as of sol 1610 (July 13, 2008).

Sol-by-sol summary

During the past week, in addition to making daily measurements of atmospheric opacity caused by dust with the panoramic camera, Spirit completed the following activities:

Sol 1608 (July 11, 2008): Spirit received new instructions from Earth via the rover's high-gain antenna.

Sol 1609: Spirit acquired column 17, part 3 of the so-called "Bonestell panorama" using all 13 color filters of the panoramic camera. The rover acquired six, time-lapse, movie frames in search of clouds with the navigation camera.

Sol 1610: Spirit relayed science and engineering data to NASA's Odyssey orbiter for transmission to Earth.

Sol 1611: Spirit received instructions from Earth over the rover's high-gain antenna and sent a timing beep to Earth at X-band frequencies.

Sol 1612: Spirit acquired column 15, part 3 of the full-color Bonestell panorama.

Sol 1613: Spirit recharged the battery.

Sol 1614 (July 18, 2008): Spirit relayed science and engineering data to Odyssey for transmission to Earth.

Odometry

As of sol 1610 (July 13, 2008), Spirit’s total odometry remained at 7,528.0 meters (4.7 miles).



Daily Update - 7/16/08
Wheels Turn, Rover Slides
Opportunity Status for sol 1586-1592

Opportunity lost about 30 watt-hours of energy after a short drive on sol 1584 (July 8, 2008) left the solar panels tilted in a slightly less favorable position relative to the Sun. The amount of energy lost is enough to light a 30-watt bulb for one hour.

Another scheduled drive on sol 1586 (July 10, 2008) was postponed to sol 1588 (July 12, 2008), then postponed again to sol 1591 (July 15, 2008) to give rover drivers more time to assess the terrain. Opportunity took camera images in support of the evaluation and measured argon gas in the Martian atmosphere using the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer.

Also on sol 1591, Opportunity attempted to climb directly up the slope to the left of a flat rock nicknamed "Nevada" because it is shaped somewhat like the state. To gain extra traction, rover planners hoped to use rocks at or near the rover's wheels. Their goal was to have Opportunity advance in three short "steps" of 40 centimeters (16 inches) without changing direction.

The result was disappointing: Opportunity halted the drive after the second step because of excessive wheel slippage of 97.5 percent (meaning the wheels moved only 1 centimeter, or less than half an inch). Instead of advancing, Opportunity slid to the right about 5 centimeters (2 inches), resulting in a change of heading of about 2.5 degrees clockwise. Images showed small mounds of soil churned up by the rover's wheels.

Plans for next week call for Opportunity to continue driving as scientists decide whether to try again to reach Nevada from a different direction or begin driving out of "Victoria Crater."

Opportunity is healthy and all subsystems are performing as expected as of sol (Martian day) 1592 (July 16, 2008).

Energy has been averaging around 357 watt-hours (100 watt-hours is the amount of energy needed to light a 100-watt bulb for one hour). Tau, a measure of atmospheric darkness caused by dust, is at 0.24. The dust factor, representing the proportion of sunlight penetrating dust on the solar arrays, has been averaging 0.796 as of sol 1585 (July 9, 2008).

Since last week, both Tau and the dust factor have improved.

Sol-by-sol summary

In addition to measuring atmospheric dust each day based on the darkness of the sky as viewed by the panoramic camera and relaying data to NASA's Odyssey orbiter for transmission to Earth, Opportunity completed the following activities:

Sol 1586 (July 10, 2008): Opportunity acquired backward-looking images with the rear hazard-avoidance cameras and an 8-by-1 panel of images of nearby terrain with the navigation camera. After sending data to Odyssey, the rover spent 4.66 hours measuring atmospheric argon and went into a mini-deep sleep.

Sol 1587: After measuring atmospheric dust and relaying data to Odyssey, Opportunity went into a deep sleep.

Sol 1588: In the morning, Opportunity acquired a mosaic of images in search of atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera. After sending data to Odyssey, Opportunity spent 4.5 hours measuring atmospheric argon with the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer. The rover then went into a mini-deep sleep.

Sol 1589: Opportunity acquired a 360-degree panorama of images with the navigation camera as well as full-color images, using all 13 filters of the panoramic camera, of a target nicknamed "Muller." The rover spent 2.66 hours measuring argon in the atmosphere with the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer and went into a mini-deep sleep.

Sol 1590: Opportunity took thumbnail images of the sky with the panoramic camera. After relaying data to Odyssey, Opportunity went into a deep sleep.

Sol 1591: In the morning, Opportunity took spot images of the sky for calibration purposes using the panoramic camera. Before beginning the day's drive, Opportunity took images of Nevada with the panoramic camera. After the drive, Opportunity took images of the surface near the rover's wheels with the hazard-avoidance cameras and a 2-by-1 mosaic of images of the terrain ahead with the navigation camera. After sending data to Odyssey, the rover went into a deep sleep.

Sol 1592 (July 16, 2008): Early in the morning, Opportunity acquired four, time-lapse, movie frames in search of clouds with the navigation camera. After sending data to Odyssey, Opportunity went into a deep sleep. The following morning, the rover was to conduct a horizon survey with the panoramic camera.

Odometry

As of sol 1591 (July 15, 2008), Opportunity’s total odometry was 11,725.21 meters (7.29 miles).



Daily Update - 7/10/08
Solar Energy Evens Out
Spirit Status for sol 1601-1607

A week after the winter solstice, NASA's Mars rover Spirit is experiencing stable solar energy levels of between 225 watt-hours and 230 watt-hours. (One hundred watt-hours is the amount of energy needed to light a 100-watt bulb for one hour). Spirit continues to perform light science activities every three to four Martian days, or sols. Science activities this week included acquiring additional frames of the so-called "Bonestell panorama" of Spirit's overwintering locale.

The rover continues to relay data to NASA's Odyssey orbiter every four sols. The reduced level of activity has allowed Spirit to maintain a healthy battery charge despite the low level of solar energy input.

Spirit is healthy and all subsystems were performing as expected as of the downlink of fresh data from Odyssey on Sol 1606 (July 9, 2008).

 

Sol-by-sol summary

During the past week, Spirit completed the following activities:

Sol 1601 (July 4, 2008): Spirit assessed atmospheric dust levels based on the darkness of the sky with the panoramic camera.

Sol 1602: Spirit assessed atmospheric dust, monitored the dune field known as "El Dorado," and took spot images of the sky for calibration purposes with the panoramic camera. The rover relayed data to Odyssey for transmission to Earth.

Sol 1603: Spirit recharged the battery and measured atmospheric dust opacity with the panoramic camera.

Sol 1604: Spirit received a new activity plan from Earth via the rover's high-gain antenna and assessed atmospheric dust levels with the panoramic camera.

Sol 1605: Spirit again gauged atmospheric dust levels and also surveyed the horizon with the panoramic camera. The rover acquired Column 16, Part 4 of the Bonestell panorama, using all 13 color filters of the panoramic camera.

Sol 1606: Spirit assessed atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera and sent fresh data to Odyssey for transmision to Earth.

Sol 1607 (July 10, 2008): Spirit recharged the battery and measured atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera.

 

Odometry

As of sol 1606 (July 9, 2008), Spirit’s total odometry remained at 7,528.0 meters (4.7 miles).



Daily Update - 7/9/08
Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
Opportunity Status for sol 1581-1585

Opportunity's drive toward the cliff known as "Cape Verde" inside "Victoria Crater" was stopped on Martian day, or sol, 1582 (July 6, 2008) because of excessive slip in the rover's wheels. The command to the rover was to drive backward 0.33 meter (about a foot), but the actual distance traveled was 0.45 meters (approximately 1.5 feet). The drive was to begin with a backup arc followed by a forward arc (rather than a turn in place) to avoid a rock near the left rear wheel, then continue a short distance uphill and turn toward the cliff. Given the steep slopes and dusty terrain, slips in excess of 60 percent are not unexpected.

Another drive on sol 1584 (July 8, 2008) was also stopped because of excessive slip. As Opportunity slipped to the right, the rover's left front wheel started to scoop up a potato-sized rock. At the same time, the right rear wheel moved closer to a rock that rover drivers had been trying to avoid. Images taken by the rover's rear hazard-avoidance cameras showed the rear wheels starting to dig into the soil.

After the drive, Opportunity successfully calibrated the Z-axis movement of the rock abrasion tool after the device had not fully retracted during a cold-temperature, Z-axis characterization test on sol 1578 (July 2, 2008). (The mechanical parts functioned properly but the sequence of commands controlling them stopped too soon).

Opportunity re-acquired two super-resolution images of rock exposures of interest on the cliff known as "Cape Verde," replacing overexposed images taken the previous week of targets dubbed "Charles" and "Delta." Opportunity also made atmospheric observations.

Opportunity is healthy and all subsystems are performing as predicted, based on data received from the Odyssey orbiter on sol 1585 (July 9, 2008). Energy levels are averaging about 385 watt-hours (almost enough to light a 100-watt bulb for four hours). The Tau measurement of atmospheric darkness caused by suspended dust is 0.3. The dust factor measurement of the amount of sunlight penetrating dust on the solar arrays is averaging about 0.77.

Sol-by-sol summary

During the week, Opportunity completed the following activities:

Sol 1581 (July 5, 2008): Opportunity measured atmospheric darkness due to dust with the panoramic camera and re-acquired "dusty," super-resolution images of Charlie and Delta. To acquire "dusty" images, the rover compensates for dust accumulation on the right side of each panoramic-camera lens by taking images with a subset of available pixels. Opportunity completed a survey at low Sun before relaying data to Odyssey for transmission to Earth. After sending data to Odyssey, the rover went into a deep sleep.

Sol 1582: Opportunity greeted the day by assessing atmospheric dust, surveying the horizon, and taking spot images of the sky for calibration purposes with the panoramic camera. The rover measured atmospheric dust with the navigation camera, then drove 0.45 meters (1.5 feet). Just before and after completing the drive, the rover took images with the hazard-avoidance cameras of the Martian surface next to its wheels, and took post-drive images of the terrain ahead with the navigation camera. Opportunity relayed data to Odyssey.

Sol 1583: Opportunity monitored atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera and acquired a time-lapse, six-frame movie to record the movement of any clouds that might be overhead. The rover relayed data to Odyssey.

Sol 1584: Upon awakening, Opportunity assessed atmospheric dust with the panoramic and navigation cameras and took offset, thumbnail images of the sky for calibration purposes with the panoramic camera. The rover calibrated the rock abrasion tool and drove a short distance, taking images just before and after the drive with the hazard-avoidance cameras. Opportunity acquired a post-drive tier of images with the navigation camera, sent data to Odyssey, and went into a deep sleep.

Sol 1585 (July 9, 2008): First thing in the morning, Opportunity monitored dust accumulation on the panoramic-camera mast assembly and assessed atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera. Opportunity then took six, time-lapse movie frames in search of Martian clouds with the navigation camera. Before going into a deep sleep, the rover relayed data to Odyssey. Plans for the following morning called for Opportunity to measure atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera.

Odometry

As of sol 1583 (July 7, 2008), Opportunity’s total odometry was 11,724.39 meters (7.29 miles).



Daily Update - 7/8/08
Battery Power on the Rise
Spirit Status for sol 1580-1586

Spirit's battery is recharging nicely now that rover planners have reduced the frequency of communications to and from the rover during the darkest days of Martian winter. Most measures of battery health are showing an increase of about 2 amp-hours in the battery state of charge (an amp-hour is equivalent to the amount of charge flowing for one hour from a current of 1 amp). The minimum state of charge has improved from 10.92 amp-hours to 12.97 amp-hours, the maximum from 16.77 amp-hours to 18.17 amp-hours, which is fairly close to the battery's full capacity of 19.5 amp-hours.

Because battery energy increased sufficiently, the team added 12 minutes of remote sensing science to Spirit's to-do list for Sol 1586 (June 19, 2008). Spirit was to monitor atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera as well as dust on the panoramic-camera mast assembly and acquire seven, time-lapse movie frames in search of clouds with the navigation camera. Engineers anticipate that the additional activities will have no significant effect on the battery's state of charge.

Skies remain remarkably clear. Solar array energy is up slightly, averaging 229 watt-hours (100 watt-hours is the amount of energy needed to light a 100-watt bulb for one hour). Atmospheric darkness caused by dust (known as Tau) increased by an insignificant amount, going from an average of 0.193 the previous week to 0.205 this week. The dust factor, the fraction of sunlight hitting the arrays that penetrates the dust layer, also rose insignificantly, from 0.349 to 0.352.

Rover planners are generating new activity plans for Spirit only once a week to minimize uplink time and therefore the length of time the rover must stay awake. Spirit relays data to Earth only every fourth sol to minimize battery usage.

In addition to estimating the amount of scattering and absorption of sunlight by atmospheric dust, Spirit received one transmission of new instructions direct from Earth to the rover's high-gain antenna on Sol 1581 (June 14, 2008). Spirit sent two transmissions of data to Earth via Odyssey on sols 1582 and 1586 (June 15 and June 19, 2008). Data from the sol 1582 downlink showed that the backup uplink on sol 1584 (June 17, 2008) was not needed and the communications link was shortened to save energy.

Spirit remains healthy and all subsystems were performing as expected as of the downlink to Earth via NASA's Odyssey Mars orbiter on sol (Martian day) 1582 (June 15, 2008).

Sol-by-sol summary

During the past week, Spirit completed the following activities:

Sol 1580 (June 13, 2008): Spirit recharged the battery and measured atmospheric opacity caused by dust (Tau) using the panoramic camera.

Sol 1581: Spirit recharged the battery and received new instructions direct from Earth to the rover's high-gain dish antenna.

Sol 1582: Spirit soaked up the sunlight to recharge the battery, assessed atmospheric darkness caused by dust particles with the panoramic camera, and sent data to NASA's Odyssey orbiter for transmission to Earth.

Sol 1583: Spirit recharged the battery.

Sol 1584: Spirit recharged the battery, surveyed atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera, and received new commands from Earth over the rover's high-gain antenna.

Sol 1585: Spirit recharged the battery.

Sol 1586 (June 19, 2008): Plans called for Spirit to recharge the battery, conducted remote sensing, and send data to Odyssey for relay to Earth.

Odometry

As of sol 1578 (June 11, 2008), Spirit’s total odometry remained at 7,528.0 meters (4.7 miles).

Daily Update - 7/8/08
Here Comes the Sun
Spirit Status for sol 1587-1593

With this week's passage of the longest night and shortest day of the year, also known as the winter solstice, Spirit's solar power levels should slowly but steadily increase. The winter solstice occurred on Martian day, or sol, 1591 (June 24, 2008, Pacific time).

In fact, Spirit's solar array energy and battery state of charge have already improved in recent days to the point where rover operators have begun adding some planning features back into the rover's schedule. The first change, adopted as of sol 1592 (June 25, 2008), was to return to a planning schedule covering every 3 or 4 sols. The plans themselves remain quite spartan at this time. In particular, rover operators are still planning to have Spirit relay data to Earth only every 4 sols. To do this, the rover sends data to NASA's Odyssey spacecraft, in orbit above Mars. To save power, engineers are keeping the data relays short in duration. Spirit has begun measuring dust-related atmospheric darkness every sol instead of every other sol.

Because it has been some time since engineers have been able to synchronize the spacecraft clock to Earth time, they decided to determine how much the clock had "drifted" -- that is, changed with time. To do this usually requires a power-intensive, two-way, X-Band communication session. This time, to save energy, they decided to perform an X-band "beep," a five-minute communication session using the rover's low-gain antenna, on sol 1594 (June 27, 2008). Accuracy will not be as good, but they expect to get an estimate of drift that is accurate to within about a minute.

Spirit is healthy and all subsystems are performing as expected as of the Odyssey downlink on sol 1590 (June 23, 2008). Solar array energy has been steady at 230 watt-hours, enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for 2.5 hours.

Sol-by-sol summary

During the past week, Spirit completed the following activities:

Sol 1587 (June 20, 2008): Spirit recharged the battery.

Sol 1588: Spirit recharged the battery and received new instructions direct from Earth via the rover's high-gain dish antenna. Spirit measured atmospheric dust opacity, known as Tau, with the panoramic camera.

Sol 1589: Spirit recharged the battery.

Sol 1590: Spirit recharged the battery, measured atmospheric opacity caused by dust with the panoramic camera, and relayed data to Odyssey for transmission to Earth.

Sol 1591: Spirit recharged the battery and received a backup relay of commands from Earth via the rover's high-gain antenna.

Sol 1592: Spirit recharged the battery and conducted light remote sensing.

Sol 1593: Spirit recharged the battery.

Sol 1594 (June 27, 2008): Plans called for Spirit to send data to Odyssey for relay to Earth and transmit a five-minute signal to Earth to allow spacecraft operators to estimate drift in the spacecraft clock.

Odometry

As of sol 1586 (June 19, 2008), Spirit’s total odometry remained at 7,528.0 meters (4.7 miles).

Daily Update - 7/8/08
Biding Time
Spirit Status for sol 1594-1600

Spirit continues to ride out the Martian winter by doing minimal activities to conserve power. The rover conducts very light science activities every three to four Martian days, or sols, and relays data to NASA's Odyssey orbiter for transmission to Earth every 4 sols. The rest of the time, Spirit mostly sleeps.

As it has been some time since Spirit's operators were able to synchronize the spacecraft clock to Earth time, they wished to determine how far the spacecraft clock had drifted (how much it had changed over time). Synchronization of the clock is a process that requires a power-intensive, two-way, X-band communications link. When the power situation allowed it, they decided to perform an X-band "beep" (a five-minute, low-gain communication session) to estimate the amount of drift. The transmission of plans to do so on sol 1594 (June 27, 2008) were not detected by the ground station. Engineers hoped to make another attempt on sol 1604 (July 7, 2008).

Spirit is healthy and all subsystems were performing as expected as of the Odyssey downlink on sol 1598 (July 1, 2008). Solar-array energy has been steady within the range of 225 watt-hours to 230 watt-hours (100 watt-hours is the amount of energy needed to light a 100-watt bulb for one hour).

Sol-by-sol summary

During the past week, Spirit completed the following activities:

Sol 1594 (June 27, 2008): Plans called for Spirit to perform a five-minute "beep" at X-band frequencies after relaying data to Earth via the Odyssey orbiter.

Sol 1595: Spirit recharged the battery and measured atmospheric dust opacity, known as Tau, using the panoramic camera.

Sol 1596: Spirit recharged the battery and measured atmospheric dust opacity with the panoramic camera.

Sol 1597: Spirit recharged the battery and measured atmospheric dust opacity with the panoramic camera.

Sol 1598: Spirit received new instructions from Earth via the rover's high-gain, X-band antenna and relayed data to Odyssey at UHF frequencies for transmission of the latest Martian data to Earth. The rover measured atmospheric darkness caused by suspended dust particles with the panoramic camera.

Sol 1599: Spirit conducted light remote sensing.

Sol 1600 (July 3, 2008): Spirit recharged the battery and again measured atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera.

Odometry

As of sol 1598 (July 1, 2008), Spirit’s total odometry remained at 7,528.0 meters (4.7 miles).

Daily Update - 7/8/08
Happy Winter Solstice!
Opportunity Status for sol 1566-1573

Opportunity has begun work on the much anticipated panorama of the layered promontory known as "Cape Verde" inside "Victoria Crater." The panorama will take several Martian days, or sols, to complete and will be made up of a mosaic of panoramic-camera images. The Cape Verde panorama is expected to be spectacular, "one for the textbooks."

With each move closer to Cape Verde, power to Opportunity's solar arrays has decreased as more of the promontory obscures the sky. Currently, Opportunity is about 7 meters (20 feet) from the Cape Verde cliff face. The rover's next short advance toward the cliff will tilt its solar panels away from the Sun, limiting the amount of solar energy even more. Rover drivers will take great care to ensure that Opportunity stays out of the shadow cast by Cape Verde, which currently extends approximately 3 meters (about 10 feet) from the cliff face. Even with all these constraints, the team is confident Opportunity will have enough power to finish the Cape Verde panorama.

The winter solstice occurred during sols 1570-1571 (June 24-25, 2008). This is the point at which the arc that the Sun traces across the sky reaches its most northerly point. Because Opportunity is south of the equator, the arc that the Sun traces now will move gradually to the south and higher in the sky. In coming months, this will result in more solar power for Opportunity.

Next week, Opportunity is expected to complete the Cape Verde panorama, then roll slightly forward to a point only a few meters away from the cliff face to take additional high-resolution images of the nearest portion of the cliff face.

Opportunity is healthy and all subsystems are performing as expected. Solar energy is around 367 watt-hours (100 watt-hours is the amount of energy needed to light a 100-watt bulb for one hour). As of sol 1572 (June 26, 2008), tau, a measurement of sun-blocking dust suspended in the atmosphere, was 0.409. The dust factor, the proportion of sunlight penetrating the coating of dust on the solar arrays, was 0.771.

Sol-by-sol summary

In addition to receiving morning, direct-from-Earth instructions via the rover's high-gain antenna, sending evening UHF data to NASA's Odyssey orbiter for transmission to Earth, measuring atmospheric dust with the panoramic camera, surveying the sky for clouds with the navigation camera, and monitoring dust accumulation on the rover mast, Opportunity completed the following activities:

Sol 1566 (June 19, 2008): Opportunity drove 3.52 meters (11.6 feet) closer to Cape Verde and acquired post-drive images of the surrounding terrain with the navigation and panoramic cameras.

Sol 1567: Opportunity approached Cape Verde another 1.54 meters (5.05 feet), to a position roughly 7 meters (20 feet) away from the cliff face. After the drive, the rover took images of its new locale with the navigation and panoramic cameras.

Sol 1568: Opportunity recharged the battery. Before sending data to Odyssey, Opportunity surveyed the sky at low Sun with the panoramic camera. The rover took images of Cape Verde's shadow with the navigation camera.

Sol 1569: Opportunity recharged the battery and surveyed the sky at high Sun with the panoramic camera.

Sol 1570: Opportunity recharged the battery and completed 10 pointings of the panoramic camera at Cape Verde. The rover acquired a mosaic of panoramic-camera images of the atmosphere in search of dust.

Sol 1571: In the morning, Opportunity surveyed the horizon with the panoramic camera and completed 20 pointings of the panoramic camera at Cape Verde.

Sol 1572: Opportunity completed 14 pointings of the panoramic camera at Cape Verde.

Sol 1573 (June 26, 2008): In the morning, Opportunity took thumbnail images of the sky with the panoramic camera. The rover completed 14 pointings of the panoramic camera at Cape Verde.

Odometry

As of sol 1565 (June 18, 2008), Opportunity's total odometry was 11,723.94 meters (7.28 miles).

Daily Update - 7/8/08
On the Move
Opportunity Status for sol 1558-1565

Opportunity has resumed driving through challenging terrain in "Victoria Crater," making significant progress toward a promontory of layered rocks known as "Cape Verde." On Martian day, or sol, 1565 (June 18, 2008), the rover made it to within 2 meters (6.5 feet) of a staging area dubbed "Safe Haven," where Opportunity will acquire images of the cliff face.

During the drive, Opportunity observed no motion of the robotic arm in its new unstowed position in front of the rover. Additionally, Opportunity experimented with a post-drive "salute," in which the rover swung the robotic arm at the elbow joint out of the field of view of the front hazard-avoidance cameras, took an image, and then returned the arm to its starting position.

Opportunity collected a variety of remote sensing observations, including images of shadows cast by the Cape Verde promontory and images of holes the rover's wheels dug into the terrain. Opportunity also took images of and measured argon gas in the atmosphere.

Opportunity is healthy and all subsystems are performing as expected. Solar-array energy has averaged about 447 watt-hours (100 watt-hours is the amount of energy needed to light a 100-watt bulb for one hour).

Sol-by-sol summary

In addition to measuring atmospheric dust one to three times a day with the panoramic camera, Opportunity completed the following activities:

Sol 1558 (June 11, 2008): Opportunity acquired images of a cobble informally named "Wilson" using all 13 color filters of the panoramic camera.

Sol 1559: Opportunity acquired a 2-by-1 mosaic of images with the navigation camera and a 3-by-3 mosaic of images of wheel holes with the panoramic camera. The rover acquired hazard-avoidance camera images of terrain near its wheels just before and after ending the day's drive. Opportunity completed a "Get Quick Fine Attitude" calibration to determine the rover's precise location relative to the Sun and acquired a 3-by-1, post-drive mosaic of images with the navigation camera. The rover also acquired a navigation-camera image mosaic of Cape Verde. After relaying data destined for Earth to NASA's Odyssey orbiter, Opportunity measured atmospheric argon using the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer.

Sol 1560: Opportunity acquired six, time-lapsed movie frames in search of clouds with the navigation camera.

Sol 1561: Opportunity took spot images of the sky for calibration purposes with the panoramic camera.

Sol 1562: Opportunity surveyed the horizon and acquired a 4-by-1 mosaic of images of shadows cast by Cape Verde with the panoramic camera. Opportunity drove to a location where the rover was to make scuff marks with its wheels and acquired hazard-avoidance camera images just before and after the end of the drive. Using the navigation camera, Opportunity took a 3-by-1, post-drive mosaic of images with the panoramic camera; post-drive images of old scuff marks made by the rover's wheels; and images of shadows cast by Cape Verde. After relaying data to Odyssey, Opportunity measured argon gas in the atmosphere with the alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer and acquired navigation-camera images of shadows cast by Cape Verde.

Sol 1563: In the morning, Opportunity took offset, thumbnail images of the sky with the panoramic camera. The rover performed a toe-dip, moving its front wheels forward and then backing up again, and did a salute with the robotic arm, moving it in and out of the field of view of the hazard-avoidance cameras. Opportunity acquired hazard-avoidance camera images of the surface near its wheels just before and after ending the drive; a 3-by-1, post-drive mosaic of images with the navigation camera; and a 2-by-1, post-drive mosaic of images of the wheel scuffs with the navigation camera. The rover took post-drive images of Cape Verde's shadow using the navigation camera.

Sol 1564: In the morning, Opportunity took more images of Cape Verde's shadow with the navigation camera. The rover drove a little closer to the promontory, took images with the hazard-avoidance cameras just before and after ending the drive, and acquired post-drive image mosaics with the navigation camera.

Sol 1565 (June 18, 2008): Upon waking, Opportunity took images of Cape Verde's shadow with the navigation camera. The rover drove a little closer, acquired images just before and after ending the drive with the hazard-avoidance cameras, and acquired a 5-by-1 tier of images with the navigation camera. The following morning, Opportunity was to acquire four, time-lapsed movie frames in search of clouds with the navigation camera and take spot images of the sky with the panoramic camera.

Odometry

As of sol 1565 (June 18, 2008), Opportunity’s total odometry was 11,718.88 meters (7.28 miles).

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